If you need a good reason to be following politics closely these days, here’s one. While the media focuses on the wide and overarching aspects of the health care reform bill, the Senate is deciding on “compromise language” about abortion services, an issue that will affect one in three women in their lifetime.
A particularly dividing issue, abortion has been in and out of the public debate but very much pervasive in the senate’s deliberations. Last Tuesday, a small victory was won when the senate tabled an anti-abortion bill brought about by Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and others. This bill, which elicited fear in all proper reproductive rights advocates, would have essentially banned the public option from covering abortion services.
Considering the pervasive need for these services, it is quite shocking that this bill even got the attention it did. The defeat of the bill was applauded by reproductive rights organizations throughout the country. But the struggle is continuing as senators attempt to win the votes of anti-abortion members. This is an extremely unfortunate area of health care in which to make concessions.
But alas, compromising, if you can call it that, seems to be a favorite pastime of the 60 Democratic senators lately. And as we speak, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Robert Casey are working on compromise language relating to the abortion services aspect of the bill. This is all in order to win over an anti-abortion Democrat, Senator Bill Nelson. Nelson is speculated to be the only obstruction to the 60 votes needed to block an expected filibuster on the health care bill. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t frustrating to be compromising on women’s reproductive health in order to appease one Senator.
A fantastic editorial in the Austin American-Statesman clarifies the difference between the moral aspects of abortion and the fact that it is, simply, a medical service that is a necessity for women all across the country.
But really this debate puts into perspective the general problem Democrats are having with blocking filibusters and…well…getting anything done. With issues such as abortion, the Democratic party is fragmented, and therefore having a 60-senator majority basically does diddly squat.
But I digress. The point is this: as a room full of mostly men propose to each other ways in which to limit women from the health services they really need, let’s all be vigilant about following the news, shall we? Because we can’t fight something that we don’t know is happening.
by Emily Logan