Dear Senator Marrero,
I’m writing because I am gravely concerned about the implications of SB 1065 on the women of Tennessee and because I am confused and depressed to find that you are sponsoring it. You have always been such a strong advocate for women’s rights in this state and someone who understood the importance of keeping the State out of a woman’s medical decisions. This bill, though, is the exact opposite of that. It gives the State unprecedented abilities to intrude into the lives of women and to force conforming behavior that isn’t necessarily in a patient’s best interest.
I know that you are deeply concerned about the infant mortality rates in this state, especially in Memphis. I, too, am deeply concerned. The picture of the tiny coffins in the Commercial Appeal is heart wrenching. But this bill not only intrudes upon pregnant women in ways that basically give control of their bodies to the State for the length of their pregnancies, it places the blame squarely on mothers for tragedies that often have no cause. Women lose pregnancies all the time. It doesn’t mean they’re drug addicts or alcoholics. It just means they have bad luck.
And while, yes, any doctor will tell you that the best way to assure a successful pregnancy is to see your healthcare provider regularly, using the threat of drug testing women if they don’t can only backfire. Women who are on drugs will not go to the doctor if they know it means they’ll be drug tested. Any doctor will tell you that when a patient is unhealthy–and drug use makes one unhealthy–it is even more crucial for women to go to the doctor while they’re pregnant.
My concerns are that this bill gives the State the power to coerce me to seek medical care and to punish me (though conveniently not through legal mechanisms) if I don’t. I am also gravely concerned that this bill, if passed into law, will discourage women from seeking prenatal care.
But discussion of your bill has spread around the internet. I am the blogger at Tiny Cat Pants. I talked about it there yesterday.
I also posted it at Shakesville, a large feminist blog.
The health community is also now aware of it.
And I invite you to read the comments on those posts and to follow the links to other posts discussing this to see the problems women have with this bill.
In closing, I’d like to ask if you’ve met with Barbara Clinton, who runs the Center for Health Services at Vanderbilt, which oversees the Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker (MIHOW) programs that operate throughout the South. The MIHOW program in Memphis has had dramatic success in lowering infant mortality rates among participants. And I am convinced that the successes they have can be replicated on a broader scale. If you’d like me to arrange a meeting, I’d be more than happy to.
I forwarded your post and Katie’s to her, as well.
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Nice. I haven’t yet figured out how to write my letter without it turning into a book-length text.
Probably much more effective than if I had written him to ask, “What the fuck is wrong with you, you fucking douche nozzle?”
Rachel, This felt like a book. I tried to just stick to my salient points, but I feel like there are so many salient points that trying to reduce it to just the most objectionable is nearly impossible.
How embarrassing that the links didn’t work! But I fixed it.
Scott, Marrero is a woman. Unless there’s been a change. Ha.
Whoops! This just sounded like so much paternalistic bullshit, how could it NOT have been introduced by a man? The douche nozzle assessment still stands, though.
You don’t suppose the whole thing is meant to be one of those ploys in which the Democrats enter a bill that’s so outrageous that even Republicans will be forced to oppose it, so that the Democrats can then attack the Republicans as unwilling to confront drug abuse or something like that?
nm, you’re such an optimist. lol.
Yes, Rachel, because having a Democratic Party that goes out of its way to position itself as Hateful Republican Lite, and having elected members of that party who think in stupid yet convoluted enough ways to come up with something like that is indeed a cheerier prospect than their being serious about equating poverty and limited health care options with drug abuse. Optimistic about everything, that’s me.
Have I mentioned lately how much I love you, Aunt B? Because I totally <3 you right now. This is beautiful.
That is a caption bill.
Caption bill, held on desk – pending amdt.