#5SmartReads - May 24, 2023
Hitha on abortion bans, identity capital, and Minnesota's sweeping changes
Abortion bans drive off doctors and close clinics, putting other health care at risk (NPR)
Abortion care does not exist in a vacuum.
It’s but one aspect of gynecological care, along with Pap smears and colposcopies, breast cancer screenings, contraception care, annual exams, and prenatal and postpartum care.
In the 11 months since the Dobbs decision was issued, the focus has been on either the Draconian laws passed in states to ban and criminalize abortion, or the states investing in comprehensive reproductive healthcare access and rights (I see you, Washington state!). Heartbreaking stories of pregnant people’s lives being at risk before their lives are threatened enough have been published.
The impact on reproductive healthcare access has been significant in less than a year. Maternity wards are closing in hospitals in states with anti-abortion laws. Fewer medical students and residents intend to become OB-GYNs. Those that do are planning to move to states where abortion is legal.
The unintended consequences of abortion bans are showing themselves - and it’s not good. It’s very, very bad (especially when you consider the declining birth rate in this country and the stunning lack of social programs to support new parents and children).
It’s bad. And it could get worse with a Republican majority in Congress and elected to the White House, with a national abortion ban. Which no longer feels as far-fetched as we once believed it could be.
The Minnesota Legislature will have far-reaching impacts: A list of local and statewide changes (Post Bulletin)
But hope is far from lost. Just take a look at Minnesota.
The state’s health insurance program was expanded to provide coverage to over 40,000 undocumented residents. Abortion and transgender healthcare rights were codified. Workers have been granted up to 12 weeks of paid leave (for birth of a child, injury, or caring for a family member). Two major gun safety measures were passed - a red flag law and expanding background checks to private gun transfers. Marijuana was legalized.
And that’s less than half of what was passed in this legislative session.
What happens at the local and state level will have a greater impact on your daily life than what happens in Congress (the debt ceiling debate aside). So please pay attention to what’s happening in the state you live in, and the states you may consider living in one day.
R. F. Kuang on Yellowface, Tokenization, and Constant Comparison (ELLE)
I’m saving Rebecca Kuang’s backlist to enjoy when recovering from surgery, and this interview put Yellowface at the very top of the list to read first.
In talking about June (the narrator of Yellowface), Rebecca revealed a genre of books that I didn’t even realized I gravitated towards for the same reasons I gravitate to the loud, opinionated women on reality television:
“I’m actually thinking a lot about contemporary psychological thrillers, especially female lead thrillers, like Gone Girl or The Woman in the Window—lots of books with “girl” in the title. A lot of them have deeply unsympathetic female narrators. It’s always this narrative of, “She’s kind of a bitch, like, she’s really mean.” And you find that you still really enjoyed listening to her because it feels kind of like going to the pub with the nastiest friends you don’t even like and listening to them rant about everybody who walks through the doors. I’m tinkering with what makes that voice so delicious and addictive, even though it’s not a personality that we would never want to spend time with.”
I really appreciated Rebecca’s candor about the reality of book publishing, tokenism, and the choices she made in this book. I can’t wait to read it.
What counts as a war crime and why they're so hard to prosecute (Axios)
The term “war crime” has been used a lot when describing the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I confess that beyond that term, I didn’t know much about war crimes - their formal definition, how they’re prosecuted, and their severity in this war.
I don’t want to summarize this further, as I think Axios did a fantastic job of synthesizing these terms and legal avenues, as well as their context in this particular war.
It’s worth your time.
Are We Being Scammed Into Selling Ourselves? (Refinery 29)
YES. And to that, I say “please stop!”
My hobbies - reading romance novels, watching reality television, crafting - are ones I’m both immensely devoted and noncommittal about. I phase in and out of them with no rhyme and reason, picking up whichever I need in a moment. Crossing over from consumer into creator of these works would ruin their magic in my life.
I am all about that multi-hyphenated life and recognize the need for multiple income streams, especially right now (and that’s something I passionately support my team members doing the same). I also know that basics to good health - sleep, balanced meals, exercise, gathering with our loved ones - require quite a bit of time (and a lot of privilege in today’s life). If you’re constantly focused on working and generating income, when do you live?
“While there is no question that building identity capital and seeking out unique experiences is beneficial, particularly for those at the start of their careers, seeing ourselves through the lens of capitalism is neither healthy nor sustainable. Things don’t need to be of concrete use in order to have value and life doesn’t need to be a continual self-improvement project. Instead, start a new hobby or book a holiday, secure in the knowledge that it does not need to improve you in any quantifiable way.”
Not that I needed another reason to be excited for tonight’s Vanderpump Rules reunion…but I’ll take this one.