November 10, 2009

On the Stupak-Pitts amendment to the health care bill

Posted in Activism, Current events, Feminism, Government, Health care, Politics, Reproduction at 3:14 pm by The Lizard Queen

To begin with, for the record, here is the pertinent section of the Stupak-Pitts amendment:


(a) IN GENERAL—No funds authorized or appropriated by this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, except in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, or unless the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

People who believe that women might have valid reasons to seek an abortion outside of danger of death, rape, or incest, and who understand that many women, should they find themselves in a position where they need or want to terminate a pregnancy, would need that procedure covered by insurance that is funded, entirely or in part, by the government, find this amendment unsettling, to say the least. (See Ann, Jill, and Shark-Fu’s takes.) The idea that the amendment will probably get removed in committee? Not particularly reassuring. The idea that the amendment is only talking about induced abortion, and couldn’t possibly be used to refuse coverage of an elective D&C to remove an incomplete abortion (as in, after a miscarriage, also known medically as a spontaneous abortion)? Yeah, that one’s also not particularly reassuring. The idea that this is not a big deal, it’s just politics, we have to look at the bigger picture? That’s not reassuring, and it’s patronizing! Whee!

I found this passage from the above-linked Daily Kos diary particularly illuminating:

About five minutes after the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade, the anti-abortion forces began a war on the rights confirmed by that decision. But their molester-enabling, coathanger-selling, health-shattering, woman-hating, forced-pregnancy campaign was two-pronged, a direct assault but also an asymmetrical war, a nibble here, a nibble there.

And at every step of the way, some people who claimed they were pro-choice said that this little nibble or that little nibble wasn’t such a big deal. It only affected a small group of people or it was only the case rarely, we were told. The activists who challenged these nibbles were characterized as “hypersensitive,” “irrational,” and “over-reacting.” Not by their enemies. But by their supposed allies.

Over the decades, while engaging in a campaign of intimidation, harassment and murder, the anti-abortion movement has managed, nibble by nibble, to get ever-more restrictive legislation into place. Ultimately, the right of affluent women to obtain an abortion hasn’t been much affected – except in the case of late-term procedures. But affluent women always had options even when abortion was illegal in every state. They could fly to Puerto Rico or Japan and get a safe abortion there without having to risk potentially lethal chemicals or abortions at the hands of unlicensed doctors or other providers operating on somebody’s kitchen table in less than sterile conditions.

Thanks to [the Hyde Amendment], low-income women in most states are still at a disadvantage when it comes to getting an abortion. Stupak-Pitts, if it survives the conference process, will not only reinforce this classist attack on women, it will also broaden it.

Being ferociously opposed to it is, therefore, not irrational or hypersensitive or over-reactive. It’s called standing up for progressive values.

Shark-Fu, Ann, and Jill suggest some actions we can take in the posts I linked above; I recommend checking those out.

(On an only tangentially-related note, I know I shouldn’t expect anything more from Dick Armey, but seriously, what the hell?)


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