I posted this to Facebook on International Women’s day last week. My daughter is finally taking a nap, so I have about seventeen seconds to post it here as well.
I have been a stay-at-home dad for two months and 14 days. It is the hardest thing that I have ever done. Harder than the formation of my business; harder than recovering from having my pelvis severed by a boat propeller; harder than graduate school. We’re financially stable, I’m able to work from home, we have a fancy swing that puts her to sleep, a variety of strollers and baby carriers, and even a sleeping pad that simulates the womb. I’m surrounded by family that helps out, and I have an amazing wife that not only supports us financially, but she comes home from work and does all of our household tasks while taking care of our baby all the way through the night so that I can get my own work done. While she wishes she could have stayed home longer, she only received three months of maternity leave. I have it easier than anyone. Yet staying at home with our daughter still feels like a heroic task. Just trying to write this brief paragraph has taken me over an hour.
Our baby was strapped to my chest for the first few sentences, then she spit up on me, then I cleaned her, then I tried to put her down for a nap, and now she’s sitting on my lap. This is my life. We planned for this, we knew approximately what was coming, and we did our best to prepare.
The striking thing is that every mother goes through this. And every one of them has it much, much harder than I do. Single mothers. Low-income mothers. Teenage mothers. Mothers will multiple children. Mothers of children with special needs. Mothers with careers who go out on maternity leave and then are at a permanent disadvantage when they return to work (which is the fundamental driver of the gender wage gap). All mothers.
I honestly have no idea how they do it.
It’s International Women’s Day. Yet, instead of recognizing women for what they go through, we are poised to make life much, much harder for them.
Since passage of the Affordable Care Act, 55 million women now get birth control without a co-payment and health insurance companies can’t discriminate based on gender. Abortions are lower than they’ve been since Roe v. Wade, we’re at a 30 year low for unintended pregnancies, and we’re at a historic low for teenage pregnancies.
(Tried unsuccessfully to put baby down. Now typing with one hand while holding her with the other.)
Republican legislators have long argued that it’s unfair for men to help subsidize the cost of maternity care and contraception. Their argument is that because men can’t get pregnant — we shouldn’t be responsible for the cost of pregnancy or contraception. And so the GOP replacement plan could eliminate the ACA provision that ensures insurance companies can’t discriminate based on gender. This is, to put it mildly, fucking insane. Apparently this is complex science that not all GOP legislators understand: women can’t get pregnant without a man’s help. We are responsible for half of the cost of babies and baby prevention. But, because women carry the baby, regulations are necessary to ensure that we are adequately paying our fair share.
(Tried unsuccessfully again to put baby down for a nap. She’s now on my lap and very angry.)
Republican legislators have also long argued for the need to defund Planned Parenthood, and their proposed health plan contains a provision that would finally achieve this. Though this is stated in every article ever regarding this fight, it’s worth saying again and again and again: federal money does not go towards abortion services. Planned Parenthood is a non-profit reproductive health provider that provides health care to 2.5 million people (76% of which are low-income). Just 3% of what they do is abortion services. They work like any other hospital, but they focus on reproductive health and fundraise to provide service to those that can’t afford it. Just like any health provider, they bill private health insurance and only receive federal money when a patient uses Medicaid to cover their services. The argument over defunding Planned Parenthood is an argument simply about not allowing Medicaid to cover any Planned Parenthood services. Again, this isn’t ending Medicaid funding for abortions — because that’s already illegal. This is just about not allowing Medicaid to cover cancer screenings, STI screenings/ treatment, and contraception. To put it mildly again, this is fucking insane.
(Ok, baby is officially losing it as I shirked my parental duties by writing this instead of making sure she went down for a nap.)
Happy International Women’s Day everyone. Thank you, to every mother out there. Sorry about the insanity of the men who now run this country.