While Covid-19 has been kind to no one but big pharma, women are facing serious economic consequences because of it. The fall 2020 edition of Ms magazine (pg. 9) reports, “the number of women in the workforce fell below 50%” for the first time in 40 years. Women who are breadwinners, nearly 40% of the country’s households with children, are the hardest hit. A big reason is that 18% of the nation’s affordable childcare has disappeared.
Congress has stalemated over plans for a second CARES Act. The President, who is mentally and physically ill, waivers in his support for new money but generally, doesn’t seem to give a damn. Getting Amy Coney Barett appointed to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death is his one clear goal. If he succeeds, the likelihood that Roe v. Wade will be overturned will take women’s rights back into the dark ages.
Ironically, there is a potential bright spot. Some time ago, I wrote a blog about two drugs, mifepristone, and misoprostol that when taken as directed provide safe abortions. At the time of my comments, a woman had to obtain these pills by surreptitious means. Today they are available through a doctor’s office, though an appointment adds expense and inconvenience. Nonetheless, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has opposed efforts to allow these prescriptions to be distributed through pharmacies and mail order. Covid-19 changed that picture for a time.
On July 18, 2020, a federal judge ruled the FDA’s “in-person” requirement imposed a substantial health risk for women wishing to obtain abortions. (“Now Available: Abortion by Mail,” by Maddy Ponz Fall 2020, Ms magazine, pg. 11.) Unfortunately, this ruling did not affect 18 states and expired 30 days later. Nonetheless, a precedent has been set.
For 30 days, a woman was treated as an adult and during that time nothing dire occurred. Perhaps the judge’s ruling should be extended for 60 days? Or 120? Or a year? Better yet, why not permanently empower women? If they can head households, do work formerly reserved for men, and continue to raise children, maybe they can be trusted to take a pill as directed. Just a thought.