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There Is Nothing “Courageous” About Denying Women’s Reproductive Rights

There Is Nothing “Courageous” About Denying Women’s Reproductive Rights

Last night, I got an email from Barack Obama, telling me that history was made in the U.S. Capitol when the House of Representatives passed the health care reform bill.  The email commended me and other progressives for the role that we played in the passage of the bill, attempting to be inspirational.  It completely missed the mark.  Although I am happy that the health care reform bill passed, I have to disagree with whoever writes Obama’s emails – I spoke up, but I wasn’t heard.  This is because the bill that passed last night actively works to curtail women’s reproductive freedom.  It is reactionary, and it is certainly not “courageous” – the word that Obama used to describe the passage of the bill.

I wrote yesterday about the provision tacked on to the health-reform bill at the last minute, the Stupak amendment.  In the words of Rachel Maddow (who predicted this morning on “Meet the Press” that Democratic women will “revolt” if the amendment isn’t removed), it is the most significant restriction on reproductive choice in a generation, because it essentially makes it impossible for any insurance plan funded with federal money to provide coverage for abortion, except in the case of rape and incest.  The amendment was added to the bill last night, and justly infuriated supporters of reproductive freedom.  Representative Diana DeGette (D-Colorado), said, “If enacted, this amendment will be the greatest restriction of a woman’s right to choose to pass in our careers.”

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To say that the Stupak amendment is a “poison pill” for pro-choice Democrats is putting it mildly.  Although Rep. DeGette and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut), have both said that they will vote for the bill despite their ardent pro-choice sentiments, and it looks as though the amendment could be stripped away by the conference committee, this is an enormous betrayal of a significant segment of the voting population. 

The Democratic Party relies heavily on women to win elections – as Ann points on Feministing, women’s reproductive rights are not peripheral.  They should never be negotiated away.  And as an advocate for reproductive justice, I am sick of compromising.  This is not a case of losing a battle but winning the war – without adequate coverage for abortion, women do not have the health care they need.  Period.

Amanda Marcotte has a post up at Pandagon about what this means for the future – contraception coverage, she suggests, will be next on the chopping block.  This may sound extremist, but think back to just over a year ago, when John McCain was unable to clarify his position about insurance coverage of birth control.  This year, anti-choicers in Florida were pushing for a personhood amendment that would make most contraception illegal – this is a move that has been made in Colorado and Utah.  Although these amendments are unlikely to become a serious threat, their presence is enough to signify that for many people, women do not have the right to control their bodies.  The 64 Democrats who voted for the health-care bill are making a milder but no less powerful statement: to suggest that abortion is not part of a comprehensive health plan marginalizes women’s health and freedom.

Rosa DeLauro said that the original compromise in the bill – that federal dollars would not be used to cover abortions – should have been enough for anti-choice Democrats.  “Abortion is a matter of conscience on both sides of the debate,” she said. “This amendment takes away that same freedom of conscience from America’s women. It prohibits them from access to an abortion even if they pay for it with their own money. It invades women’s personal decisions.”

Although the passage of the health-reform bill was seminal, pro-choicers need to refuse, in this crucial moment, to compromise.  When Obama called the passage of this bill “courageous” and said that “moments like this” were why he was elected to office, he denied the rights of every woman in the country, and that can’t stand.

Some first steps?  First, we need to work on overturning the Hyde Amendment, a piece of legislation dating from 1976 that bars the use of federal funds for abortion.  Obama has always supported overturning this amendment, but this promise seems to have fallen by the wayside.  Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America have action pages as well.  And frankly, I suggest letting money talk – in the email sent last night, Obama was asking for donations, but I won’t give a cent to Obama until the Stupak amendment is gone.  But most of all, we need to be telling our legislators that for once, women’s health should come first.

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263 comments

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5:14PM PST on Nov 21, 2009

Amanda doesn't want to pay for other women's "selfish choices."

How do you know the circumstances in which I found myself unwillingly pregnant? How can you just ASSUME that I'd been irresponsible? In fact, I became pregnant while conscientiously using birth control and ending that pregnancy wasn't "selfish,"....it WAS the only option..

I couldn't continue the pregnancy...never intended to become pregnant and certainly couldn't go on with it. Does this make me "selfish?"

I don't think so.

When we have insurance plans, we all pay to fund approved procedures. And that doesn't mean YOU get to "approve" my use of legal procedures. It doesn't mean that YOU get to decide whether or not to pay for my contraceptives or my tubal ligation OR my abortion.

The law gets to decide when abortion is legal...not YOU.

4:04PM PST on Nov 21, 2009

"The same stands for C-sections and other life-saving medical procedures that occur during the birthing process."

C-sections increase the risk of premature babies being born, they're also much more dangerous than a natural birthing is.

3:58PM PST on Nov 21, 2009

"Without women there would be no men around and that is the way it is whether they like or not and that is a fact."

So, according to you, women are only good for producing more men?

12:28PM PST on Nov 21, 2009

Without women there would be no men around and that is the way it is whether they like or not and that is a fact.

10:36AM PST on Nov 20, 2009

And Amanda, this was not a personal attack on you. I just wanted to show you another side you may not have considered. I just think it's important for us to consider all view points. However we feel on a subject, we can still show compassion for those who are actually dealing with the issue at hand. We are in no place as fellow Humans to Judge another. If we practice more love, I think we could truly change the fate of our world. Maybe then people would actually feel the true kinship we should have for one another. You may not be my birth sister but we are all part of one grand scheme. We all come from one place. So with that said, I hope you continue to contribute to Care2.

10:24AM PST on Nov 20, 2009

I mean, I'm sure we could have done without a Hitler right? No one's going to refute that. How different our world would be if a lot of the evil people had been aborted right? And who's to say that the child in question wouldn't end up a murderer? See, this argument can swing both ways. You can't just assume that every child that is born is going to be this great person, some could end up the worst. Right? If the government is going to pay for other people's life choices then they need to pay for all, or none. That is the only way to make the law fair. Our opinions do not belong in law. And that is what this article is about. Not whether or not you believe or don't believe in abortion, but whether or not it should be included in the new Bill. Yes the govt should put money towards education and prevention but that is not going to work 100% of the time. Nothing ever does, including birth control. So as I've said before a person can be doing the "right" thing and still end up pregnant, should they just be assed out because you don't believe in something? Absolutely not! Because your opinion shouldn't dictate their life as my opinion shouldn't dictate yours. I know I keep repeating but you have to take a step back from the situation and really think about what would be fair. It is NOT fair to cover liver failure due to excessive drinking or diabetes from eating horrible food, but then say no, it was your choice to get pregnant now pay for it. Really? How is that fair? It's not!

10:12AM PST on Nov 20, 2009

Amanda, I understand your point however calling women who abort selfish I think is extremely judgmental of you. I think all of those points you made are serious things that women must think about. Why would you want to have someone be a mother to a child when they themselves think they are not ready? Usually if a person isn't ready to have the responsibility of raising a child, that means they probably won't make the best parent. And usually children who come from a situation where their parent(s) aren't good, those children usually grow up with a number of problems. and those children go on to make children and sometimes carry over those ill feelings to their children. You see where I am going here? There is a cycle that continues to keep going round and round. And how is it that you know what most women base their decision on when they decide to abort? Are you personally going around and asking these women why they are doing what they are doing. It sounds like that is just your opinion. And you are completely entitled to that, however it doesn't make that statement fact. So if the unborn child as you say doesn't know what life is, then why does it matter? it's not like the unborn child is going to know what it's missing (or not missing for that matter) it's all speculation. There r plenty of children on this earth who could grow up to be something great if people took the time to nurture them. There are plenty of things that "could be" but that doesn't always mean it should

9:54AM PST on Nov 20, 2009

Sarah D.--Abortion is not mentioned in the Bible because people did not have the scientific discoveries that have been made in the past several centuries. The same stands for C-sections and other life-saving medical procedures that occur during the birthing process.

My stand on this topic: I don't believe in abortion. However, those who do should not depend on the government to take care of their selfish concerns. What do I mean by selfish? When you consider women who have abortions, most--I emphasize most, not all--do not base their decision upon what is best for the child. The unborn child has and cannot make a choice. They haven't experienced anything, so unborn children don't know what life is, let alone what they may be losing. But most aborted mothers consider whether they are ready for a child, whether they want to carry a child, whether people would think badly of them for being pregnant. Rather than using federal money for abortions, federal money should be applied more heavily toward birth control so that women will be less likely to be in this predictment to begin with.

I am not trying to push my opinion on anyone, but if you create a child, you should give that child a chance to experience and decide whether life is enjoyable. He or she may grow up to be someone great, but you won't know that if you end their life before it begins.

6:11PM PST on Nov 19, 2009

"The posts were refering to preborn babies"

"Preborn" is not abortion. Have fun embarrassing yourself.

1:25PM PST on Nov 18, 2009

And another note, spirits do not die. While our physical bodies may deteriorate and perish, the soul within the human never ceases to exist. For we are all part of God and God is eternal.

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