Though many see Miriam Carey’s death as the tragic, but reasonable consequence of her choice to ram the White House gates with her car, she is actually just one more casualty in an ongoing, particularly vicious war on women.
The mother of a 1-year-old daughter who was in the car while police officers fired multiple rounds into the vehicle to subdue her, Carey had no history of violence but had been diagnosed with a case of postpartum depression. Some reports indicate that she had been trying to slowly wean herself off the medicine. The temptation in this case is to read Carey’s acts and her death as an anomaly. But her death cannot be understood outside of the broader set of policies governing the treatment of women and people of color in this country.
The GOP has shut down the Congress for a week now based on the simple belief that everyone is not entitled to healthcare. Among other things, Carey’s death is a cautionary tale about what can happen in a nation that systematically ignores the unwell. One is left to wonder whether she had all the social support she needed in a country that not only thinks access to healthcare is a privilege rather than a right, but that also stigmatizes mental illness. The shutdown itself has been engineered by a party that is hell-bent on forcing women to have babies that they may not want to have, while making access to care for those children extremely difficult to obtain.
For instance, one of the programs most immediately affected by the shutdown is the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, which provides vouchers for food and infant formula. The program can be sustained at the state level through the month of October, but will jeopardize the lives of 8.9 million people if the federal government doesn’t get its act together. The program disproportionately serves working-class women of color.