It just did.
In Pennsylvania, a woman has been sentenced to a year and a half behind bars for illegally procuring so-called “morning after” pills on the Internet for her 16-year-old daughter, who had an unwanted pregnancy. The mother had no health insurance, and there was no clinic nearby for the girl to obtain an abortion. (And if states like Texas end up getting their way, there will be lots of places where women’s health clinics will be shut down from over-regulation.) The mother is a single parent. One can only imagine how desperate both the mother and the daughter were.
But there was no acknowledgement of how awful it must have been for the mother to have to seek reproductive and abortion care for her daughter. Instead, the woman is suffering exactly the fate people said was just an hysterical conspiracy theory. She’s been named a criminal, convicted of performing an illegal abortion and is going to prison. The fact that the teenager will be without a mother for a year and a half doesn’t seem to trouble those who went after her, either.
So what is the supposed compromise? Make the pills available over the counter. This isn’t a compromise – this would just mean that every woman using birth control pills, not just those with ignorant or judgmental employers, would have to pay out of pocket for them, which can cost $600 a year. (Interestingly, none of the candidates is talking about making Viagra available over the counter, which would mean men would have to pay for their sex pills as well.) The over-the-counter “solution” is obviously not only more costly, but takes the doctor out of the equation, which might not be safe for women and girls.
Notably, so-called morning after pills work much like birth control pills do. They prevent conception from occurring (since pregnancy does not happen immediately after sex, but can take up to six days to happen). The Pennsylvania mother was doing exactly what the GOP candidates are saying all women should be able to do. Except that this isn’t about birth control at all, or even abortion. It’s about sex. And Pennsylvania is making sure both mother and daughter are punished for it.