Jezebel, April 18, 2012 by Erin Gloria Ryan
With states governments from coast to coast working tirelessly to make sure no woman has sex for pleasure without suffering the consequences of blessed, precious motherhood, it may be tempting to believe that if you have a uterus, the entire country has become hostile territory. Well, we’ve got good news and bad news: The good news is that wherever you are, things could probably be much worse for your ladyparts. Unless, that is, you live in one of the ten scariest places to have ladyparts. The bad news is that these ten places exist.
In order to come up with this list of Down There Horrorscapes, we took a look at several factors, relying heavily on services a woman might need in a worst case scenario. We compared laws restricting access to abortion, including waiting periods, parental consent laws, and bans on late term procedures. A few states have trigger laws on the books that would immediately outlaw abortion in all cases except to save the mother’s life in the event that Roe is ever overturned. We looked at laws that allow doctors and pharmacists to refuse to provide care or fill prescriptions for abortifacients, emergency contraception, or birth control, even in cases of medical emergency. We examined factors that would endanger pregnancy or adoption prospects as well — maternal mortality rates, inaccessibility of hospitals or , as well as regions with especially overloaded foster care systems that may make the idea of giving a child up for adoption seem less rosy. Domestic violence and spousal homicide rates were considered. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a list of places that are unfriendly to ladies if we didn’t include rape statistics. Points were assigned to each scary statistic, totals were compiled, and here’s what we found.
It was hard to pick one city in Texas to represent the state in the Miss Crappy America pageant, because when you’re a lady in the Lone Star State, it’s not difficult to feel lost and alone. Earlier this year, Governor Rick Perry (who really should go by “Dick,” because it’s much more fitting) threatened the entire Texas Women’s Health Program by refusing to comply with the federal requirement that the state stop excluding Planned Parenthood from funding. And! Texas has enacted some of the scariest, most restrictive abortion laws in the land, which affect women in all parts of the state. But Kingsville stood out for a few reasons. Located in Southern Texas an hour or so from Corpus Christi is Kingsville, a city of about 25,000 people. Women who live here are about three times more likely to get raped than women who live elsewhere, and once the US Army conducted an exercise here that involved live ammunition. In 2008, it’s estimated that more than a million women were beaten by their partners in the state of Texas. A woman seeking an abortion in Kingsville will have to drive about an hour in order to get to a clinic in Corpus Christi, and once she gets there, she’ll be required, by law, to either listen to the sound of the fetal heartbeat and watch an ultrasound or listen to a description of the ultrasound by the sonogram technician. She then must listen to a speil from the doctor that explains that there’s a link between abortion and breast cancer (there’s no stronger a link between abortion and breast cancer than their is a link between never having babies and breast cancer), that fetuses can feel pain, and that women who have abortions are emotionally scarred. Then she gets to wait 24 hours, drive back to the clinic (since a woman in Kingsville lives under 100 miles from the clinic, she’d be required to wait an entire day) for the procedure. If an underage Kingsville woman becomes pregnant, she needs to both notify her parents and receive consent from them, and the consent form must be notarized. She can bypass this if there’s a medical emergency, but not if she’s a rape, incest, or abuse victim. Don’t uterus with Texas.
The state’s Republican-controlled legislature sure is great at enacting laws that they claim are in the interest of their “pro life” ideals. A law barring women who live far from abortion providers from getting prescriptions for RU-486 was signed into law earlier this month, and laws already exist requiring minors receive parental consent before terminating their own pregnancies.
With so much pro-life dick swinging going on in the halls of Tennessee government, you’d think that they’d be interested in helping babies after they were born, too. Nope!
Shelby County, Tennessee is a great place to go if you’re interested in being in a place where a lot of babies die. With an infant mortality rate of 12.8 per 1,000 live births, the area encompassing downtown Memphis has an infant mortality rate almost 50% higher than the rest of the state, which itself has an infant mortality higher than every other state in the country. It’s even worse for black women — babies born to black women have an infant mortality rate of 17.8 per 1,000 live births — a statistic that’s nothing short of a shameful reflection of the heartless hypocrisy of a “pro life” state.
Portions of Napoleon Dynamite were filmed here, but there’s nothing to dance about if you’re a set of fallopian tubes with the misfortune of finding yourself in Pocatello, Idaho.
Idaho’s the state that’s home of Chuck Winder, the politician who suggested that women would use rape as an excuse to have abortions. And Pocatello is the home of Jennie Linn McCormack, a woman who was charged with a crime after self-inducing her own abortion using RU-486 her sister purchased over the internet only to discover that her pregnancy was further along than she thought. The closest abortion provider to Pocatello is located in Salt Lake City, Utah, which is nearly 3 hours away by car. Laws in Idaho are strict, but even stricter is a culture dominated by a brand of Mormonism that condemns women who choose anything but motherhood.
“The Breakfast Counties,” Georgia
Coffee, Bacon, and Crisp counties sound like fun places to have brunch with people who talk with neat Georgia accents, but they’re actually kind of awful places to be, especially if you’re a woman. All three are poverty-stricken places with subpar transportation, health care, and education infrastructures, but they’re far from alone in being less than peachy. According to Bryan Long of Better Georgia, 91 counties in the state consistently hover below the poverty line.
To be frank, 2012 hasn’t been a good year to be a woman in Georgia. The state’s governor is poised to sign into law what’s ruefully known as the “Women as Livestock” bill, a 20-week ban on abortion that would require women carrying non-viable fetuses to give birth to them rather than choose to end their pregnancy via abortion. The law earned its nickname when Rep. Terry England compared a woman giving birth to a dead baby to a cow or pig giving birth to a dead baby cow or baby pig. And despite Rep. Yasmin Neal’s humorous attempt to counter the anti-abortion ridiculousness with a sarcastic proposed ban on vasectomies, Georgia’s still a pretty scary place to have a uterus.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Even though it’s got an awfully musical name, Oklahoma doesn’t give women much to sing about. In March, the state’s House of Representatives passed their own version of the Blunt Amendment, a measure that would allow employers and insurance providers to opt out of covering the cost of contraception on religious or moral grounds. The law’s now awaiting consideration by the Republican-controlled Senate. And in February, the Senate approved a law that defined a “person” as any human tissue beginning at the moment of conception. There are required pre-abortion transvaginal ultrasounds there.
Oklahoma City’s maintained a noteworthy level of crappiness because of its persistant state of ill health. Out of more than 300 metropolitan areas assessed by The Commonwealth Fund, OKC came in 298th in overall health care quality. So if any of your ladyparts are broke, don’t go to Oklahoma City to fix ’em.
West Memphis, Arkansas
West Memphis, Arkansas is rotten with rape. It’s one of the most crime-ridden cities in the country, with a forcible rape rate of more than 1 for every 1,000 residents. Practically a rape party.
The state of Arkansas isn’t doing women any favors, either. Minors must receive parental consent before having abortions, and every woman must endure a “counseling session” designed to condescendingly convince them that the difficult decision that they’re making is the wrong one (or that the ease of their decision to abort must be due to the fact that they’re evil whores). A waiting period is also in place to assure that any woman who isn’t barefoot and pregnant must jump through the most possible pain-in-the-ass hoops before having a legal medical procedure.
Cleveland’s also a one of America’s rape capitals. And with legislators concentrating on regulating pregnancy rather than protecting women, it doesn’t look like that rate will decrease anytime soon.
Legislators in the worst state in America to drive across are currently debating a “heartbeat bill,” which will ban all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected at about 8 weeks. The law’s bullshit and will likely be blocked from ever being enforced by a judge with some damn sense, but, like most crazy abortion laws, it’s the thought that counts. And the fact that men in power in Ohio would call a fetus to testify in favor of a law taking power away from women is a pretty terrifying thought indeed.
Any hospital in Kansas
Kansas is a square state that many people forget about when the NCAA basketball tournament is not occurring, but when we forget about Kansas, we do that at our own peril.
That’s because whenever you turn your back on Kansas, lawmakers there try to pull some shit like outlawing private insurance coverage for abortion unless an additional rider has been purchased and endangering the University of Kansas’ Medical School’s OB/GYN accreditation by passing laws barring state employees from training doctors to perform abortions. And, lest we forget, Kansas was the site of the medical practice or Dr. Tiller, the late term abortion provider who was murdered in 2009 by a guy who strongly (and unironically) identified with “Right to Life” group Operation Rescue.
Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota
South Dakota is the seventh shittiest state on the list for a variety of reasons. First, health services for women are few and far between. There are only two abortion providers in the state which makes worst case scenarios even worse, and its remoteness makes it difficult for many South Dakota women to access emergency medical care. Last year, lawmakers passed a measure that would have imposed a 72 hour waiting period on abortion (the law was eventually struck down for placing an undue burden on women). But on the Pine Ridge reservation, things are so bad for women that it should be a crime.
The infant mortality rate here is five times the national average, and due to high rates of alcoholism and few services available to addicts needing treatment, a larger than average percentage of babies born here suffer from Fetal Alcohol spectrum disorders. Rape of Native women who reside here is shamefully common, and often goes unprosecuted.
Mississippi. The entire state of Mississippi.
Sorry, Magnolia staters. Mississippi is far and away the scariest place to be a woman.
Barring judicial injunction, as of July 1, operations at the state’s only abortion clinic will be threatened because of a new law signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant. Every state that Mississippi touches has a 24-hour waiting period in place for women who want to have abortions, and earlier this year, the House passed a law barring women from receiving prescriptions for RU-486 via Skype or teleconference, so ladies in Mississippi are triply fucked.
The state also leads the nation in teen pregnancy and obesity, and worst in child wellness, but despite all of its problems that aren’t related to women having too many abortions, Mississippi’s legislators have stuck to something they know they can control— whether or not the ladies stay pregnant. They’re surprisingly mum, though, on making sure that the environment for pregnant ladies is devoid of pollutants that could cause birth defects and difficult pregnancies and stuff. Nope, let’s keep everything unregulated but the squishy baby houses.
If you live in Mississippi, you have my sincerest condolences.
Well, there you have it. The scariest places in America to have ladyparts. If you’re disappointed that your hometown didn’t make the list, don’t fret— lawmakers are busily conjuring up crappy laws at a rate that could render this list obsolete within a matter of months. Although it will take a pretty Hurculean effort to unseat Mississippi.