New Anti-Choice Bill Suggests More #DearJohn Letters Needed

Health advocate Eesha Pandit and blogger Sady Doyle join GRITtv host Laura Flanders for a discussion of the House GOP’s draconian abortion bill, H.R.3. The bill, which Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has called a top priority, would permanently restrict federal funding for abortion, even beyond the already stringent guidelines set out in the Hyde Amendment.

Doyle launched the #dearjohn Twitter campaign to channel public outrage over H.R. 3, particularly its clause that changed the existing “rape and incest” exception for Medicaid funding for abortion to an exception for “forcible rape.” The GOP ultimately removed the word “forcible,” but the bill’s other far-reaching restrictions remain in place.

Getting the “forcible” proviso removed from the bill was a small victory, but Doyle notes the fight is far from over. H.R. 3 isn’t the only radical anti-choice bill on the GOP’s legislative agenda. Carol Joffe reports at RH Reality Check that H.R.358 (the so-called “Protect Life Act”) would give hospitals unlimited discretion to turn away women who needed abortions, even to save their lives.

Insure pregnant women

A California state senator is taking on insurance companies for denying pregnancy-related health care coverage, Brie Cadman reports at State senator Noreen Evans has introduced a bill that would protect insurance coverage for pregnant women in the individual health insurance market. Unlike group insurers and HMOs, private plans in the state are currently not required to cover maternity care. In 2004, 82% of individual health insurance plans in California covered maternity care; by 2009, only 19% of individual plans did so.

Irony alert

The individual mandate component of health care reform, which will impose a tax on people who don’t buy health insurance, is the bete noire of conservative Republicans, and the target of multiple constitutional challenges working their way through the courts. Ironically, as Simeon Talley explains at Campus Progress, the mandate was originally proposed by a Republican as a bulwark against socialized medicine:

Indeed the individual mandate has its genesis on the right. Ezra Klein interviews ‘Father of the Mandate’ Republican Mark Pauly: “We did it because we were concerned about the specter of single-payer insurance, which isn’t market-oriented, and we didn’t think [that] was a good idea. One feature was the individual mandate.”

Medicine and the public good

At truthout, Dr. Andrew Saal remembers what he said when a medical colleague asked him to sign a petition to repeal health care reform:

I centered myself and spoke in calm, measured phrases, with a warm smile. “I believe that the status quo is unsustainable. I believe that caring for those unable to pay is a matter of civic duty and professional honor. And while a pinch of free enterprise may keep the system nimble and foster innovation, at the end of the day, medicine is a social commodity similar to police and fire services.”

Saal’s colleague argues that he should be entitled to charge as much as the market will bear for medical services. After all, he studied hard and went to medical school. Saal sees things differently. He argues that, while doctors are entitled to fair compensation for their skilled services, medical knowledge is social. The doctor who places a cardiac stent didn’t invent the procedure. Saal notes that federal tax dollars fund the basic research that makes medical breakthroughs possible. While the stent itself may have been developed by a private company, the company couldn’t have invented it if the government hadn’t invested untold millions of dollars on basic research.

What’s more, Saal notes, doctors don’t pay the full cost of their schooling. The federal government subsidizes medical education through low interest federal loans, the university system itself, and Medicare reimbursements for interns and residents (doctors in training).

Nail salon hazards

Nail salon workers are exposed to a miasma of formaldehyde, toluene, and other known and suspected chemical hazards. The National Radio Project takes a closer look at the potential health effects of working long hours in poorly ventilated salons.

In California, the issue is of special concern to the Vietnamese community. An astonishing two-thirds of nail salon workers in the state are Vietnamese immigrants, most of them women in their childbearing years. Epidemiologists have yet to definitively prove a link between nail salon exposure and chronic disease, but the suspect chemicals have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals.

The bottom line is that safer chemicals are available. Activists say that regulators should mandate healthier alternatives now.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. 

Photo credit: Sam Mugraby (
By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger


Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle7 years ago

Dr. Andrew Saal is an angel. I'm a nurse, and I've never heard a doctor say that 'medicine is a social commodity, similar to police and fire services." Further, he states that "medical knowledge is social." Medical school is subsidized by the government. Doctors haven't invented the devices they work with, just use them. Doctors should be compensated for their expertise, but not exorbitantly, for the above reasons. Doctors are prima donnas and to hear a doctor put his work in perspective is refreshingly honest.

Cristina M.
Cristina M7 years ago

Pro-choice is a right, a woman's right that should not be linked to political nor religious agenda.

Lynn C.
Lynn C7 years ago

Wow! Dr Saal is the epitome of what healing is all about. Our medical issues would not be in the sad state they're in, if there were more doctors with his convictions.
For that matter, ALL of our issues would begin to heal, were there more human beings who were like him.
He has my profound respect.

Pamela H.
Pamela H7 years ago

It's the draconion Tea Party influence at work once again.

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman7 years ago

noted :0

Robby C.
Past Member 7 years ago

Trina & Ira- we (men) are not all like that. I am pro-choice (but would compromise on certain issues, like a viability limit) but when it comes to the woman's life (or rape) I fully support her choice ALL the way to the checkered flag! The woman's body is becoming a vessel & is worth only what's inside for the 9mo she's pregnant- that is OUTLANDISH! So please don't put me in that category of the stubborn jackasses you're speaking of.

Sue T.
Susan T7 years ago

@ Trina again I am so sorry you are so angry. You must have been hurt very bad by someone.

all you are such angrry people.

really are you ever happy?

Obama is against abortion

Sue T.
Susan T7 years ago

@ Trina ... why? What is so bad about this country that you could have in another?
I am so sorry that you have had bad men in your life.
I LOVE my man. It is kinda like a 2 way street like all relationships are supposed to be.
I do what I need to do and he does what he needs to do.

As far as the abortion bill, I think it should be legal....federally it is such a charged issue...and I am pro-choice. idk

John B.
John B7 years ago

This party needs to figure out what the American people want. They need to quit pushing their own agenda and listen to America. What a sickening bunch of rat bastards.

Trina Dewes
Trina Dewes7 years ago

I refuse the pledge of Allegiance because it is a lie and a crock when only a small group is able to to enjoy real FREEDOM and the Majority is still treated as slaves.