On the surface, Connecticut is a great place to raise children. Our schools, on average, perform well. Families have access to incredible learning opportunities in our history, science and creative arts. But what do you call a crisis in waiting? A report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranked Connecticut sixth in the nation for things such as economics, education and health among our younger residents.
In October, President Donald Trump announced new regulations that loosen the requirements that employers provide coverage for contraceptives, which was a pillar of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Trump’s government expanded the reasons an employer could skip out on coverage on moral or religious objections. If in the recent weeks your employer just got religion, you should know why. Trump is messing with a woman’s important right to accessible and affordable birth control. The birth control mandate, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “had a large impact in a short amount of time.” Within two years of the policy taking effect, says Kaiser, just 3 percent of women with employer-sponsored insurance had out-of-pocket expenses for oral contraceptives (the most expensive and the most popular kind).
After a white terrorist (can we just start calling these people what they are?) shot and killed at least 59 people and injured another 527 at an outdoor country music contest in Las Vegas this week, Nelba Márquez-Greene took to Twitter:
“Guess what folks? Gun violence and grief hurt in EVERY zip code. In every color. Grieving mothers need your help.”
Who can forget Márquez-Greene and her family? After her 6-year-old daughter Ana was shot and killed in the 2012 Newtown school massacre, Márquez-Greene and husband Jimmy Greene, the award-winning musician, have continually reminded this country that we can do more than offer thoughts-and-prayers over gun violence.
In 1776, Abigail Adams asked her husband to “remember the ladies.”
Oh, if only Melania were so moved. Donald Trump could use the reminder. From the moment he announced his improbable campaign, Trump has played to his most conservative supporters by promising to severely restrict abortion rights, as well as limit access to affordable birth control. The battle has settled onto two fronts, including defunding Planned Parenthood, and—since a “repeal and replace effort” fell short—removing from the Affordable Care Act the mandate that requires employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives to their eligible workers. On the first front, Connecticut has vowed to fund Planned Parenthood, should the federal government pull away.
While we’ve been engrossed in the Republicans’ umpteenth attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration quietly has stopped funding 80-some teenage pregnancy prevention programs around the country, including a highly successful one in Hartford. The Trump administration has cut nearly $214 million in grants. Those grants were awarded under President Obama, and were supposed to have ended in 2020. Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services let grantees know that the funds would end in 2018—two years earlier than promised. The cut was first reported by Reveal, a product of The Center for Investigative Reporting.
On the surface, it looks as if Connecticut children fare pretty well. According to the annual Kids Count report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the state ranks fourth in education, third in health, and sixth in overall well-being for children. The foundation pointed to nearly universal health insurance—97 percent—for Connecticut’s children as a major contributor to the state’s high ranking. Of all the states, Connecticut also had the lowest rate of deaths among children ages 1 to 19: 15 deaths per 100,000 children. But that’s not the entire story, not by half.
If you are an American woman, be afraid of the Trump administration’s latest attempts to repeal Obamacare. If you are an American woman living in poverty, be very afraid. Connecticut has taken note. During the legislative session that just ended, the Connecticut Senate unanimously voted to protect 21 health benefits (such as contraceptives and mammograms) that Trumpcare would obliterate. Sadly, that bill died in the House.
In the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie,” Grace, a 70-something businesswoman played by Jane Fonda, is often shown knocking back drinks. In fact, a wine glass is as much a part of the character’s wardrobe as are tailored pants and jaunty neck scarves. For a time, a California wine company sold “MommyJuice,” and last month, Fox News shared a story with the headline “7 Signs You’re Hitting the Mommy Juice Too Hard.”
Who knew womanhood was a condition in need of alcohol—lots of it. Ironically, when people talk about binge drinking, the conversation most often turns to college students—or to young men. But there’s a large group of people who are excessively drinking under the radar: the grandmothers of those college students.
It is a windy day in New Haven, and a gust shakes the offices of Fair Haven Community Health Center. The executive director, Dr. Suzanne Lagarde, is in an upstairs meeting room, and she looks around quickly. “I don’t have a generator—another one of my nightmares,” she said. Downstairs is a full waiting room. A loss of power would be disastrous.
It’s not easy being poor, and being a poor child is particularly difficult, especially if you live in a state in the middle of a budgetary crisis, like Connecticut. And that’s rough, given that more U.S. girls live in poverty now than in 2007, pre-Great Recession, according to The State of Girls 2017: Emerging Truth and Troubling Trends, a recent study from the Girl Scout Research Institute. Using data from the Census Bureau, National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the National Center for Education Statistics, the report paints a scary picture of the economics of being a girl in the U.S. (Other research topics from the institute, founded in 2000 as an arm of the venerable girls’ organization, include the impact of reality television on girls, and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs and girls.)
From the report:
• A total of 41 percent of American girls live in low-income households, compared to 38 percent in 2007. Low-income means that a family earns less than twice the federal poverty level, which in 2016 was $24,300 for a family of four. • More than half of African-American, Hispanic/Latina, and American Indian girls are considered low-income in the U.S.
• Connecticut has one of the country’s lowest girls’ poverty rates, at 13 percent.