November 21, 2019

Be warned: We are about to talk about one of the unmentionables. It is time.

Dr. Jen Gunter (a gynecologist known simply as Dr. Jen by most) has sent copies of her book, The Vagina Bible, to every member of Congress. While it may seem like a publicity stunt or political ploy or even somewhat amusing, Dr. Jen’s intention is to educate politicians and others in authority with facts about women’s reproductive health. She hopes they can 1) understand how unreasonable and nonsensical certain policies are and 2) move forward with accurate knowledge to influence their actions.

Monica Hesse, a columnist for The Washington Post, shares examples of these policies:

  • A bill in the Pennsylvania legislature requiring that the remains of miscarriages and abortions be buried or cremated and tasking hospitals with the responsibility for this. Hesse points out that miscarriages often happen at home and that the “remains” are so tiny they’d need a thumbtack-sized coffin. Dr. Jen believes that the emotional choice of how to handle remains belongs with the mother.
  • The middle school principal who refused to allow tampons to be available to students in bathrooms for fear the girls might “abuse the privilege.” Huh? It’s clear the principal does not understand how menstruation actually works.

There are versions of these stories for centuries… willy-nilly and/or harsh decisions made about women’s bodies with little or no regard for the truth about how women’s bodies actually work.

And this is where Dr. Jen comes in. Respectfully offering the benefit of the doubt, Dr. Jen does not assume members of Congress or local and state officials are malicious in their opinions and decisions; rather, she assumes they simply don’t know the truth about certain things.

“There are laws that are just in opposition to basic medical facts,” Dr. Jen says to Hesse.

Her mission is to arm them with facts. The Vagina Bible does just that – it is somewhat of a manual based on science and facts that explains how the female reproductive system works. In the book, she does not argue for policy change; she does press for people who are writing policies be well-educated about the topic at hand. This is a reasonable expectation for anyone with the power to make decisions and laws of the land.