On Saturday, I got to indulge in a little bit of petty glee at the story of Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family getting kicked out of the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia. As predicted, there’s been much clutching of pearls and wringing of hands, even from the left wing. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who I revere as a certifiable badass, said that the Red Hen should have served Huckabee Sanders:
“The restaurant owner should have served her,” Cummings said, referring to co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson, who has since defended her decision as one that was necessary to uphold moral standards.
“But this tone is horrible,” Cummings added. “But again, I think President Trump has created this. Since he became president and even before, he has basically given people license to state things that are ugly.” He said policy issues should remain the focus of national discussion instead of rhetoric, but reiterated that the White House does not follow that line of thinking.
But while people were getting their knickers in a collective wad over the allegedly less-than-civil treatment of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, another woman’s experience was going viral. On Friday night, a schoolteacher from Peoria, Arizona named Nicole Arteaga posted on Instagram about how a pharmacist refused to fill her prescription for misoprostol, a drug that would terminate her nine-week pregnancy. The doctor gave her the prescription because her fetus had stopped growing and there was no heartbeat; in short, she was carrying a corpse inside her. The other option was to remove the dead fetus via a D&C procedure (dilation and curettage).
“I stood at the mercy of this pharmacist explaining my situation in front of my 7 year old and five customers standing behind,” she wrote, “only to be denied because of his ethical beliefs.”
Arizona is one of six states with “conscience clause” laws that allow pharmacists to refuse to give out emergency contraception due to their “sincerely held beliefs.” (The others are Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi and South Dakota.) In the case of Nicole Arteaga, the pharmacist eventually tranferred her prescription to another pharmacy twenty minutes away. But look at that list: Most of them are big, sprawling states with large rural areas where there might not be another pharmacy within 20 minutes. Or, the next pharmacist down the road might also be unwilling to fill the prescription. And the next after that. And the next after that.
This isn’t just a fluke in six states. This is the America that the GOP wants. They want those six states to be fifty. In January, the Trump administration proposed rules that would let health care providers refuse to treat queer or trans people — even if it’s a life or death situation. Let’s not blame this solely on Trump, either: yes, his administration concocted the rules, but the Republican party has been agitating for that to become the norm.
That’s the America they want: One where queers, trans people, and cis women can be left to die without a flinch. That’s why I’m not willing to be civil to them, nor to shed tears for Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I’m too busy being angry about Nicole Arteaga and everyone else who will be denied health care because of Christian or Capitalist fundamentalism.