The War on Women Redux

Part One

Three dollars.

Less than the average bill at Starbucks unless you actually purchase a mere coffee.

Three dollars—that’s what it costs in some poor countries for a nurse to administer a test that prevents cervical cancer before it can take hold. For three dollars a medical professional can dab vinegar on a woman’s cervix, check to see if there are any precancerous lesions (the vinegar turns them white), and if so, then simply freeze them off. A vaccination follows and the disease is prevented.

For three dollars.

In any kind of normal world governed by normal people who have not become slaves to ideology, cervical cancer would logically follow the paths of polio, smallpox, and other diseases that have been systematically eradicated. But in the world of Donald Trump—morally bankrupt himself but willing to arrogate the morality of his priggish and sanctimonious supporters—defunding Planned Parenthood, which performs nearly 300,000 cervical cancer screenings annually makes perfect sense.

So does his “global gag rule” which stops all funding abroad for any organization that even speaks about abortion, as well as his cutting off funds to the United Nations Population Fund which has nothing whatsoever to do with abortions but instead works to promote women’s health.

I bring this up not only because death from cervical cancer is horrific in its suffering and needlessness, but because, like health insurance and police reform and so many other facets of a reasonably progressive society, we are forgetting about them as we bask in the warm glow of upcoming investigations into ties with Russia and glibly toss around phrases like obstruction of justice and presidential incapacity. Trump isn’t going anywhere anytime soon; meanwhile, every two hours he remains in office another woman in the United States succumbs to cervical cancer. During that same time span worldwide, the toll is over eight-hundred a day.

While we wait for Trump’s inevitable but glacially slow demise, we may have to prop up some of the organizations he is hellbent on destroying.

Part Two

Maddi Runkles carries a 4.0 average at Heritage Academy, a small private Christian school in Maryland. She played on the soccer team and served as president of the student council.

She’s also pregnant and barred from upcoming graduation ceremonies. Heritage Academy, like many Christian schools advocates—insists upon—abstinence until marriage, this despite some studies indicating that nearly 80% of evangelical teens engage in premarital sex. Maddi did not abstain. But she also chose not to abort the pregnancy thereby following one of the basic tenets of evangelical Christianity. This decision has made her a hero among anti-abortion groups, though she remains a pariah at Heritage Academy.

She has not named the father of the child whom she plans to marry at a later date. It is unlikely that he (not a student at Heritage) will be barred from his graduation, but that is just surmise on my part. And unlike the impoverished women deprived of health care in third-world countries, Maddi Runkles will survive this skirmish—one of many in the current war on women that Trump and his ilk continue to wage.

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