Q&A: Tuesday and Billy Cain
Tuesday Cain's response to Texas's latest bid to restrict women's reproductive rights was to hold up a sign saying 'Jesus isn't a Dick'. The storm of controversy she faced reveals the febrile politics around abortion in America. Ralph Jones put the questions to Tuesday and her father Billy
[For a summary of the issues discussed here read Jesus isn't a dick by Ralph Jones]
Ralph: What impact do you think Texas law House Bill 2 will have? Do you think that it will lead to women simply travelling elsewhere to seek abortions?
Billy Cain: First of all, thank you for allowing me to respond to these questions. I have been doing a lot of studying on these issues and even so, the facts that show what will happen are, to one degree or another, speculative at best. However, based upon the past, we can predict some of the future.
So far, my take is that House Bill 2's passage will definitely lead to additional lawsuits to stop its implementation and to show its constitutionality. That's already happening. It appears that more clinics will close and women will have less access to critical services. There is at least one clinic that is closing, allegedly due to the bill, in Harlingen, TX. Three others are closing but those appear to be due to funding cuts from previous legislative efforts. There are already women in El Paso that are using medicine to self-induce abortions (they call it a Flea Market Abortion), and traveling over the border to Mexico to seek abortions. The long term effects cannot be estimated, but it is a certainty that women are losing access to critical services as well as losing their choices for reproductive freedom. It is important to note that many fetal abnormalities are discovered at a 20 week visit, and that deciding to terminate a pregnancy is not easy. Given that the cost of an abortion is expected to go to $1200, many people that live below the poverty level (single person families ~$12k/annually) are expected to pay 10% of their annual income for the procedure. What choices do these women have left available to them? Lack of pre-natal care is just one of the myriad concerns.
Longer term, I believe this bill's passage will lead to even more restrictions on women's freedoms. They have already put forward a fetal heartbeat bill in Texas, and I am sure the full removal of abortion as an option is not far behind.
With Texas being a leader in removing women's rights, more and more states and the women within them will lose their freedom. The first thing we need to do is police the bills that are being enacted. We need to hold our leaders to task for slipping addendums into other bills. Ohio added their abortion bill onto their state budget? How is that even legal? Unless people stand up and get counted, we are going to continue to lose our rights.
Tuesday Cain: The impact that I feel House Bill 2 will have on these women will be extremely negative. Some women will, of course, travel elsewhere to seek abortions, but I think most women will not. In lower income areas, more women have been found having and needing abortions. The rape, incest, violence, and disease rate is much higher than that of a higher income area. The people living in or around these areas also have a harder time educating themselves, making knowledge about pregnancy and sexual contact scarcely available to these women.
Many low income families have to neglect their children so they have time to work to make enough money for the family, leading many teenagers and pre-teens to look for comfort and attention elsewhere. They tend to stick together, and often have sex as a way to relieve themselves of stresses brought on by their home lives. Some of these girls aren't even old enough to drive to an abortion clinic, or even have the opportunity to find out that they're pregnant. HB2 is going to raise the cost and standards of an average clinic drastically, where many clinics will have to shut down. Clinics in low income areas won't be able to make the money they need to keep themselves open, so they will be forced to shut down, leaving these women with nothing.
These clinics are not only responsible for giving abortions, but giving out contraceptives, tests for diseases like breast and cervical cancer, blood tests, pregnancy tests, check-ups, etc. These are clinics that HB2 is going to close. They are places that women go for women's health reasons. They will turn to back-alley abortions and end up hurting and killing themselves because they aren't doctors and they don't know what they are doing. These are women in bad situations that don't know how to care for themselves and now they are being stripped of their ability to see reproductive doctors. Women will die painful and sickening deaths because of HB2, but it passed anyways.
Ralph: The US has a fascinating attitude towards life and death: comparatively fond of the death penalty, but vehemently anti-abortion. How logical do you think this situation is?
Billy: The US has diametrically opposed views on many, many topics. However, once you get down to a personal level, just like just about anywhere else, you'll find that most people actually want to live in peace and harmony, if they can have a balanced discussion. However, in our media controlled environment, our smallest differences can be made into huge gulfs, splitting us into two camps. People don't even realize this is happening to them.
This is generally the fault of regular people allowing themselves to be led by whatever the media puts on the television. We don't do enough research. We don't have enough time; we're too much trying to survive. We don't have or take the time to talk to one another. We have been told to be afraid of strangers, so we are closing ourselves off more and more. We are then told what the "other group" thinks. Then we are told that we're either "red" or "blue"; the good guys or the bad guys.
To control a population, the first thing to keep them distracted away from the bigger play is to create an us vs. them environment. Once the people begin battling between themselves, they forget that the enemy is actually the person that caused them to start fighting in the first place. And the person that made them start fighting is usually the person that has the most to gain. Follow the money, and you'll find out where each of these issues start and end.
How logical is this? Well, I'd argue that it's immoral to manipulate people in this way. Logical... sure it is, for the people that want each result. They are just using human behaviour against itself for personal / corporate / religious / political gain.
Tuesday: I don't think that the two are closely related, but I can understand why having those two opinions could seem conflicting coming from one mouth, and even more so from the majority of the United States. I don't think that it is a matter of being logical or illogical, but instead it's just having two opinions that are conflicting considering the similarities.
Ralph: To what extent do you think religion dominates discussions of abortion? Should abortion have anything at all to do with religion?
Billy: Remember that I have been online almost exclusively for about two weeks, listening to people talk about their views. I think I have a good sample to draw from. Religion seems to have the biggest voice in the anti-choice issue. Because this really is about anti-choice. It's not about pro-life. People ultimately want to remove a woman's right to choose what happens to her body. This means that their existence, ultimately becomes one of a chaste woman until she becomes a wife, then bears children as the church intended, and all babies are brought to term, no matter what. Some people allow for exceptions, but on the whole, this issue from a religious viewpoint based upon what I have been told by hundreds of people boils down to a woman saying "no" until she's married, and then being fruitful and multiplying.
In this arena, choice has no voice. Women are not supposed to know about sex, or have sex for pleasure. During this discussion I have been told many times that women that have sex outside of marriage are whores or sluts, and that they should just not have sex if they do not want to have a baby.
Ultimately reality has nothing to do with these moral convictions. Women must have control over their bodies, because they don't always have control over becoming pregnant. Whether it is a bad relationship, lack of understanding about contraception, rape, incest, and a myriad other issues, we cannot legislate away a woman's right to make a decision about what happens to her body.
The religious comments I have read contend that a "baby" is not part of "her body." I do not believe that. Our Supreme Court does not believe that. Does my opinion on the topic matter? No. This is an argument over whether a woman has control of what happens to her body and her life.
Should religion have anything to do with abortion as far as it being made illegal? No. Should people that are anti-choice use their concern in a manner that is helpful to the overall population? Yes. Start orphanages. Make adoption a desirous result. Work on saving the living. Help children that already are alive. Look around Texas and your own neighborhoods. There are people starving. There are people without health care. Help them first. Help the women that are running away from abusive relationships. Help people that cannot afford these babies. Make the men that brought those babies into existence responsible for helping take care of them. Help pay for lawyers to get what they need. Taking women's choices away is not the right arena for your energy. Focus on those that are already alive. They need your help and money now.
Tuesday: There are plenty of times that religion has dominated debates about abortion. People have varying opinions about it. Opinions are shaped by personal beliefs, religion being one of many. Some people (including myself) say to keep religion out of the argument. It's not that your opinion shouldn't be shaped by your religion (because that's fine), I just don't think that your religion should govern others rights. In my opinion, no, I do not think that religious reasoning makes much sense to argue ones views on abortion. Especially not when you are presenting your case to someone who is involved in the government, like the Senate. If you are using religion to make your own choices about abortions, by all means, go for it. All that I'm asking is that you let others make their own decisions about it, and don't use your religion as a reason to take away others' choices.
Ralph: What might Jesus have said about abortion?
Billy: That's a great question. No one knows. From what I have been quoted over the last two weeks, it's a debate. But Jesus did say "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." Let's take all of the energy we put toward the anti-choice movement and put it on feeding the poor and housing the homeless. I am sure we can all agree that there is a homeless problem; let's start there. Jesus did.
Tuesday: I think that Jesus would be fine with it. I haven't read anything specifically about abortion in the Bible, and I've read it all of the way through. Men have the right do do whatever they want with their bodies, so why can't women? I have been told that God loves all of his children equally. I don't think that He would ever send a person to Hell for having an abortion, even if it was a sin (I have not read that it was). I would think that He would be forgiving, as would Jesus. Obviously, I can't speak for the Lord or His Son, but from what I know about the two is that they will always love and accept all of God's Children, no matter what they do.
Ralph: Do you consider yourself religious?
Billy: Our family donates energy, time and money to causes that we believe in. We help our friends through tough situations; we've had families live with us for years when they were in hard times. We've saved friends from being beaten to death from their spouses, rescuing them from hospitals where they are bloody, black and blue. We have supported single mothers with four children by buying them groceries and giving them gas money so they can go to work. I am a believer in donating time and money locally, rather than to large organizations in general, so we try to keep things near the house. Most of our donations go to a battered women's shelter where my aunt works. I volunteer time with kids in the summer and to small and large organizations that keep communities thriving. Do I need to go to a church to prove that I believe in a higher power?
Tuesday: I do not consider myself religious. I try to follow some good aspects from religion, though. I believe that all people are born as blank slates and are taught to either make good or bad choices. Also that one should try to always try to do the right thing, even when it is not in your benefit. I believe in equality of all, and I refuse to think less of someone if they are different. So, I try to absorb lessons from religion, but I myself am not religious.
Ralph: Do you have plans to campaign more on this issue?
Billy: This was never the plan. However the trajectory of my life has always been in flux. I've been lucky to have had the opportunities I have already had and I treasure the future for what it holds. This issue is never going to die for me. This is for the future of the human race. I will never believe that women should be cattle or that they should be forced to take every pregnancy to term. Ever.
Tuesday: Yes, I want to continue to promote women's health and equality. I am not sure how I can make an even larger impact, but hope that we all can with further efforts.