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Health Care Reform, Abortion Politics, and Nihilism

26 Mar

It’s been a few days now, but I still start pacing and speaking inappropriately loudly whenever health care reform and abortion coverage comes up. Regardless of what the actual effect of Obama’s executive order turns out to be, we’re still looking at the worst abortion restrictions in some 30 years. Hopes of repealing the terrible Hyde amendment anytime soon took a severe beating, and experts say the Nelson amendment is likely to do nearly as much damage to private insurance coverage for abortion as the Stupak amendment.

Last week Michelle Goldberg made the case that despite this awful rollback of reproductive rights, feminists should still support the bill. I pretty much agree. I’m basically just thankful I’m not one of the 41 pro-choice representatives who pledged not to restrict reproductive rights and then had to go back on their word or vote against a bill that, despite its shortcomings, will give 30 million people health insurance and be “the greatest expansion of the social safety net in a generation.”

But I’m still infuriated about how we got there. As Goldberg writes:

    Anti-abortion forces have had the advantage in this fight because they’re willing to sacrifice the health of millions on the altar of their ideology. Their nihilism gives them leverage.

That the Republicans—who would never in a million years vote for Obama’s fantasy basketball pick let alone his administration’s most important piece of legislation—would engage in this kind of nihilism is, of course, so entirely unsurprising I can’t even be that outraged. Yelling about abortion was just good politics on their part—and if they don’t give a fuck about people’s access to health care in general, I suppose you can’t really blame them for not caring about women’s health.
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I am Angry at You, Pro-Choice Americans.

23 Mar

I”m ticked off. I’m ticked off at pro-choice Americans.

Now before I go any further, I want to say that people who are actively involved in pro-choice activism year round, 24/7/365, need not read on. This is not about you.

To those of you who sit around and go “Roe v Wade is law, why should I speak out?” or “The Hyde amendment doesn’t bother me” –  yeah, you keep reading.

My big question is- DO YOU CARE? Do you care about women? Do you care about children? Do you care about your sisters, your mother, your aunts, your daughters, yourself?
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What Health Care Reform?

22 Mar

Inevitably, as pro-choice activists we face people who simply do not understand the need for a reproductive health movement.  Roe is the law of the land, what’s the big deal?  Nine times out of 10 my infuriated response dives straight into an explanation of Hyde, the erosion of protections in the states, and what it means now that we have legally lost the right to have an abortion for health reasons alone.  But now I have an addendum,  health care reform and the inevitable loss of private health insurance coverage of abortion.

Though I am ecstatic we are on our way to passing historic legislation that will help millions of Americans, I have never been more dedicated to promoting reproductive justice.  The mainstream pro-choice movement has officially lost its way and we, as reproductive justice activists, need to fill their gap.  I woke up this morning to an email from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, four paragraphs in she merely notes that the Nelson amendment stands.  If Planned Parenthood is going to settle, who is going to fight?

I understand we all want to improve health care for as many Americans as possible, and that unfortunately we do not have the political climate to get truly comprehensive health care to everyone, but we already compromised on abortion with the status quo.  Why do we have to set ourselves back farther?  Who does that help?  Why are we again leaving behind poor women?

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.