My Rights Thrown Under the Bus

21 Mar

I am angry. I am disappointed. I am filled with sorrow. Today, President Obama signed an executive order reaffirming the Hyde Amendment in order to appease Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) in order to pass health care reform. While I am happy that healthcare reform seems to be in its ending stages, I do not support that women’s reproductive health and rights have been compromised. These are not matters to be voted on.

As I heard today, this giving in to Stupak is basically the Senate’s way of saying that women’s reproductive rights can continue to controlled by white men—in a way I do agree. However, I feel that greater forces are at play here. Think for instance of low-income women and families. What happens when a low-income woman who really needs an abortion cannot attain one via health insurance—what if she simply cannot afford to have an abortion (they’re pricey)? What happens when paying for an abortion for an unplanned pregnancy pushes a low-income family further into debt? I believe that all women should have the option of having an abortion if they need one. Sure there are condoms and contraceptives, but it is important to remember that not all women have access to these things that we so often take for granted.

As I sit here I am wondering what ramifications will be had given that President Obama pushed women in America under the bus today. I understand that there will be times that he will disappoint us with the decisions he makes, but this should not be one of those times. What happens to low-income women working minimum wages jobs (which often do not provide health insurance coverage) who need to have an abortion for whatever reason? What about them? This executive order, this provision that reaffirms the Hyde Amendment, renders these women silent—that is not fair and it is not something that I will stand for.

So, while we sit enraged over the decisions of today, it is important to remember that our fight is far from over. We must not stop and will not stop until women are no longer thrown under the bus. We must fight for our reproductive rights and health! And we must continue until we are all afforded the health care that we—humankind alike—deserve.

8 Responses to “My Rights Thrown Under the Bus”

  1. Persephone March 21, 2010 at 10:39 pm #

    While sexism usually doesn’t surprise me much, I was very surprised that our government sold us out so completely today. I never thought that they would flat out tell us, that not only are they going to force us to buy insurance, but they aren’t even going to give us complete coverage.

    It’s hard to express how pissed off I am right now.

  2. violetlorien March 22, 2010 at 1:19 am #

    I have mixed feelings about this one. While I am frustrated that Obama was complicit in exchanging women’s rights for health care, after debating for the past two weeks about whether the bill included abortion coverage, I can say with confidence that none of the restrictions in the executive order are new. They are simply restatements of the restrictions that were already present. The only real exception to that is the fact that while the Hyde Amendment has to be renewed every year, thus giving a yearly opportunity to fight for its repeal, an executive order applying specifically to this bill means that even if we repeal the Hyde prohibitions, health care will still be subject to the same limitations, and the order can only be overturned by the courts, congress, or another EO.

    I am disappointed, but I long ago accepted the fact that if we were going to get healthcare, it was going to be without abortion funding and with these restrictions. I am one of the 45 million without insurance, and desperately need it. Because I was diagnosed with cancer five years ago, and have a couple of other chronic conditions (epilepsy, CRPS), no one will give me insurance. I work full time but don’t get benefits. As a result, I am months late for the CT scans and tests I need to have every year (at minimum, every 6 months if I can) to determine whether the cancer has spread. This is critical because if melanoma goes from stage 3, which I had, to stage 4 (if it metastasizes), the only possibility I could survive it is if it’s caught early and treated aggressively. But the tests would cost me around $5000, which I just don’t have. The plain fact is that I could be dying of cancer right now and without insurance to pay for tests, I wouldn’t know it, or develop symptoms, until it was far too late.

    So this is very personal to me. And while I realize the impact this is going to have on women and families who are in the lower income brackets, I feel like this legislation is so important that it has to be done.

    But I’m not happy about what we’re losing along with it.

  3. veganrampage March 22, 2010 at 3:13 am #

    Not surprised, but pissed off as all hell. Damn it Obama, just damn it all to hell. He did not need to do this.

    Who the hell else is there to vote for? The Repugnicants are 1,000 times worse.

    How I loathe my own culture.

    How does one live in this patriacrhy without losing one’s mind? This is not a rhetorical question.

    Great site. Glad it is here. I’ll spread the word.

  4. Shayna March 22, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    Dena – well put – I’m befuddled by the irony in this plan… especially since when that woman who cannot afford an abortion has a child, she won’t be able to afford it – which leads into a whole other slew of prenatal care/adoption/welfare/child services/etc. issues that cost the government money – which costs the taxpayers money… and so we forge onward.

  5. Kim March 22, 2010 at 11:19 am #

    I’m curious what piece of activism we might unite around? Can we create our own feminist health insurance plans? (for real), Can we strike in some way? Can we all mobilize around Emily’s list in some meaningful political action? I’m eager for leadership about what to DO with all my rage.

  6. Dena March 22, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    @Persephone: I totally feel yah. I felt that it was going to happen, but I was actually surprised that it came to fruition. Let’s channel our anger into action!

    @violetlorien: Well said. None of the restrictions are new, but I feel it’s just the principle of the thing, you know? Also, thank you so much for sharing your story. It is for you and millions of other Americans that we now have healthcare. My little sister whom has epilepsy is one of those people as well– my parent’s insurance won’t cover her because of an apparently “pre-existing condition.” I’m very ecstatic that we now have healthcare that will benefit you and so many other people– it’s extremely important and necessary. But I suppose it’s a double edged sword as well. Stay strong, violetlorien!!

    @veganrampage: I feel yah as well. Yes, pissed off as hell and a bit happy that we finally have healthcare that covers more Americans who need insurance. Obama definitely didn’t need to do this– I suppose he felt it was necessary? I have no clue. As for patriarchy.. try to change things the best we can? That’s what keeps me sane most of the time. Thanks for sharing! =)

    @Shayna: Yeah, the plight of low-income women and the continuation of Hyde really irritates me. However, I think we need to continue fighting and lobbying. Anything can make a difference, right? What are your other thoughts on health care reform?

    @Kim: Hmmm. I think we should lobby our elected officials honestly, I think it’s a really effective way to effect change. Feminist health insurance plans sound pretty sweet– if you have a way, please do let me know! As fate (maybe) would have it, there is actually a pro-choice candidate seeking to take Rep. Bart Stupak’s seat. Her name is Connie Saltonstall (D-MI) and she’s planning to uproot Stupak in the Democratic primary. So, cheer her on and support her. That’s a way I think. Supporting a shit-ton of pro-choice candidates. But, we’ll find a way to take action– we have to! =)

  7. anita nouryeh March 24, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    i don’t know what to feel about this anymore….i’m enraged, yes, but i also still feel helpless…as if my vote or personal contribution to the fight to stay PRO CHOICE will never be enough….i’m not gonna let it stop me but i had to say it…..i wish so badly that women’s bodies didn’t have to be the currency for which deals are made…(.so to speak.)…..this may be a naive idea but what about starting with a grass roots kind of movement….something to the effect of going to high schools and working with teachers to make sure sex education is an open discussion/foreum….to let young girls know that they are all capable of staying strong amongst the peer pressure of “well he won’t like me anymore if I make him use a condom” , to let them know that they determine their worth and that there bodies are still theirs to protect, no one elses!!!! That choices go further than just dealing with the consequences….we must always choose for ourselves, no matter what!!!!

  8. Dena March 24, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    @anita nouryeh: I completely understand where you’re coming from. It does seem as if we’re sometimes… defeated, but I think that people who are fighting to stay pro-choice, such as yourself, will prevail in time… Change always comes slowly, you know? Actually, I don’t find the grassroots idea naive at all. I think that grassroots movements drive social change in a very powerful way and I absolutely love the idea of working to make sex education an open, un-stigmatized forum. I think that would be fabulous!

    What other ideas do you have in mind? Let’s make this a reality!!!

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