The mostly male members of the House and Senate managed to bring a little sanity to our insane health care system last night. With nearly all Republicans voting against health–which in my book amounts to the same thing as voting for death– the Democrats took a first and very timid step towards better health care for all Americans last night. But they caved into right-wing demagoguery and big-business interests anyway. When will they learn?
Here’s how this bill, if it is allowed to stand, will reduce the liberty of women in our country:
1. It will severely curtail women’s access to abortion. Employers and employees will now have to write two checks EVERY MONTH, one for health care, and another for an “abortion rider,” if they want to have coverage for abortion.
WHY THIS IS BAD: Before the bill, 85 per cent of insurance companies covered abortion without stigmatizing it. : it imposes new restrictions–burdens and cumbersome procedures–that will effectively limit women’s access to choose, which is exactly what the religious zealots and terrorists wanted all along.
2. It will effectively cement the power of the Hyde amendment, which is not an established part of the law, but rather a measure tacked on to the appropriations bill every year. Why? Because the President agreed to issue an executive order that will lend the weight of his office to the anti-abortion measures included in the bill.
WHY THIS IS BAD: It shows us that the guys in government are willing to trade away women’s rights to get what they want. The end does not justify the means. By strengthening the Hyde amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortion, this order weakens women’s constitutional right to choose to end unwanted or dangerous pregnancies.
3. It will allow insurance companies in the health exchanges to discriminate against women and the elderly, most of whom are women, to charge women and the elderly more for health care –if the pool of people to be covered is greater than 100.
WHY THIS IS BAD: It penalizes women for being female. In the case of elderly women, who are poorer because they’ve been discriminated against in the workplace for their entire lives, it redoubles the penalty against women for being female.
4. It imposes cruel and unreasonable limits on health care coverage for immigrants. Legal residents must wait a for five years to be eligible for Medicaid and other assistance, and undocumented workers cannot even use their own money to purchase health insurance through an exchange!
WHY THIS IS BAD: It’s racist and classist and backwards. We are a nation of immigrants, and every one of us deserves equal access to health care. And by the way–did you know that 25 per cent of all Black people in American immigrated to this country at the end of the 20th century? So this policy is going to hurt, badly, at least 25 per cent of Black women in our country today. That’s shameful!
A good end does not justify bad means. You can’t achieve justice for all by trading away the rights of some.
But WHY AM I STILL PISSED OFF? Because religious extremists and religious terrorists are steadily eroding our basic freedoms!!!
Women have a basic right to bodily integrity and subjectivity. By limiting our rights to the governance of our own bodies, by telling us that women do not have the ability or the freedom to choose what happens to their own bodies–a right they would never dare to take away from men–the lawmakers are attacking women’s fundamental rights to subjectivity, to personhood, to liberty.
I’m mad because these guys don’t care about my freedom, about my liberty–in fact they’ve shown me again and again that they’re perfectly happy to treat me as a less human than men, less entitled to basic freedoms than men.
Not enough Democrats and Pro-choice Republicans seem to be getting this message: Women’s basic liberties are falling under the monster-truck tires of the demagogues and the religious terrorists, who are determined to grind women into the mud.
These people are not just against health care, not just against abortion, they are against WOMEN. (And on Stupak’s resolute disregard for women, especially for Nuns, see Jodi Jacobson).
And yes, some of these extremists and terrorists are women, but that means nothing. Women have historically traded away their liberties in exchange for financial and emotional support from men–Women are not the only group of oppressed persons who believe what their oppressors tell them to believe, and who would rather take the lazy road of slavery than the hard road towards freedom.
Let’s all of us stop going along with the people who hate women. Let’s all of us get on that road to freedom.