“The case that could lead to the end of Roe v. Wade includes a novel argument: that the right to an abortion is no longer necessary because it has become much easier for women to combine work and family.” — New York Times, 12/1/21
I can have it all? I never dreamed I’d have more than a piddlin’ bit or, at most, a modest heap, so you can imagine my surprise when I learned I can have it all. Career, family, health care, financial security, the freedom to do what I want. Sounds like a dream.
There are a few things I can’t do? Oh, okay, sure, I guess it makes sense that I can’t snort cocaine while pregnant, but cocaine is illegal, and I can’t snort it when I’m not pregnant either, can I? But other than not ingesting illegal substances, whether pregnant or not pregnant, I can have every damn thing this beautiful world has to offer—and I can have it all right here in Mississippi.
Sorry? Oh, sure, everything except paid family leave, because Mississippi, like most states in America, doesn’t offer it. That’s okay. I’ll just take unpaid leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act when I decide to have a child. I’m sure I’ll figure out some way to live without a paycheck for a few months while recovering from childbirth and taking care of a newborn. How much could a baby cost, anyway? Wait, what do you mean I don’t qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act? Whoa, I did not see that coming. So I can only take leave if I work full time for a company with more than fifty employees for longer than a year? Golly.
You know what, I can handle this. It’ll be a stretch, and maybe I’ll have to take advantage of some public assistance, but I know a state that lets women have it all will have a robust safety net designed to ensure the health of all its citizens. What’s that? Mississippi turned down Medicaid expansion despite being the poorest state in the nation? And the state welfare office is under investigation for embezzling tens of millions of dollars in a scheme that somehow includes two famous Bretts—NFL star Brett Favre and former professional wrestler Brett DiBiase? Holy hell.
No problem! I’ll just trust my future offspring to one of the safe, reliable, affordable childcare facilities I assume are available to all families.
So Mississippi makes it really hard to qualify for any child care assistance? Good to know. But why would a state that is totally committed to making sure women have it all make it so difficult for women to get decent child care? I’m sure there’s a great reason.
It’s cool. As long as I’m financially secure, work for a large corporation for at least one year before giving birth, and can spare approximately a year’s college tuition for child care, I can have it all!
I’ll just skip over here to the nearest family-planning clinic where birth control is affordable and dispensed without judgment, because having it all is about making choices that are right for me. Wait, this isn’t a family-planning clinic? It’s a religious organization posing as a medical facility, and you aren’t licensed to dispense medication or provide medical advice of any kind? Yes, sure, why don’t I sit here and give you an hour of my time for a lecture about God’s will.
No, thank you. I don’t want any sweet tea.
And, hey, now that I have it all, I know it seems like I don’t need the right to a safe, legal abortion, but maybe we should think this through. Because right now, if my birth control fails or I miscalculate my fertility or I’m raped by a man who refuses to wear a condom or I discover I’m carrying a child with severe fetal abnormalities or the pregnancy threatens my own life or I don’t have the resources to give birth to and raise a child in a state where both poverty and infant mortality rates are among the highest in the nation, I still have a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. And, okay, sure, it means driving halfway across the state and scheduling two appointments at least twenty-four hours apart, because Mississippi only has one clinic that provides abortions and because state law mandates a weird counseling requirement that implies I’m not capable of making a decision without a lecture. Plus, I’ll have to pay for unnecessary screenings and walk the gauntlet of godly people shouting insults at me, and I’ll have to do it all within the limited period of time when I’m far enough along to know I’m pregnant but before the arbitrary cut-off date a few weeks later. But as long as my menstrual cycle is predictable, my transportation reliable, and my schedule flexible, I’m all good.
Now, if you don’t mind, I think I will have that sweet tea. Put some bourbon in it, and let’s raise a glass to the state where women can have it all.
Thank you for this honor, Mississippi. Lord knows, I don’t deserve this. No woman does.