Sunday, November 8, 2009

New Tenor: After Stupak's Assault on Women, Time to Overturn Hyde.

Any woman who is interested in bodily autonomy and reproductive rights is reeling after last night's approval by Republicans and 46 Democrats of the Stupak amendment to health care reform. You will hear repeated comments that a little compromise is worth it to get health care reform through the house and senate. But this is not a little compromise. This is a complete capitulation to conservative ideology.

There are two lessons here: 1) that 85% of women currently covered by private insurance for abortion services are threatened; and primarily poor or disadvantaged women are going to lose reproductive services under this bill, a step forward and one great step backwards for those who believe in women's rights is no real victory; and 2) that the hard push by the left to "compromise" on faith-based, family, reproductive issues has cost women desperately and is a result of long-term appeasement.

I'm so pissed off by this compromise, this willingness of the left to simply go along with the right's frame of women's rights as an issue to be dictated by the Catholic church and conservative republicans that I'm not able to think straight.

Francis Kissling, a long time head of Catholics for Choice and advocate for women's rights, has an article at RHRealityCheck this morning that proves her experience in thinking straight in times like these. Kissling writes:

Sorting through feelings as well as strategies in the face of the enormous defeat that the passage of a health care reform bill that so severely and punishingly restricts access to abortion will take time and hard political decisions. One wants to punish those who voted for the Stupak amendment and especially Stupak as much as they have punished women. At some point in time one has to put women first and above all else for no else will.

But the immediate take away is the cold hard fact that our biggest and most costly defeat since 1973 was the enactment of the Hyde Amendment and our lack of a total, uncompromising commitment to overturning it. If nothing else happens as a result of this defeat, complete and total dedication to overturning Hyde must be the centerpiece, indeed the single objective of our movement. It is not clear if the effect of the Stupak Amendment will be that the door will close on ever restoring federal funds for abortion, but every effort to make sure that does not happen must be made. We must convince enough people that the only immorality is using poor women as a way of expressing one’s moral outrage. Either we all have the right to choose or none of us has it.

President Obama has always supported overturning Hyde and we now need to insist that having achieved his political objective with strong support from the women’s movement, he must take up the true moral cause – giving women with no or low resources the same right of conscience as those with sufficient money to pay for their own abortions have always had.

One commenter writes:

The Stupac-Pitts Amendment is not common ground. It was an ultimatum, "Accept this or we will not vote to pass the bill." There is no "common ground" in a provision that prevents the most disenfranchised members of our population, low-income women, from accessing abortion care. There is no "common ground" in restricting these women from buying a private insurance plan that covers abortion.

Common ground would involve pro-choice legislation. Correct me if I am wrong, but I see nothing of the pro-choice position in this healthcare bill.

The Hyde Amendment on its own would have been common ground, but Stupac-Pitts is nothing short of pandering to the Republicans for the sake of passing the bill.

It is clear what happened last night. Women were pawned because the Democrats took a position of compromise on health care that was so far right that they had nothing left to negotiate but women. Poor women, women most vulnerable. And all women suffer from the furthering of an ideology that determines they are incapable of deciding when to have children. That their bodies belong to society, to traditional ideas of family roles, to men.

This is not solely a compromise for the sake of health care reform. This is a horrendous step backwards for equal rights and it is the result of 30 years of allowing the right to make this a religion issue and not a human rights issue. We were meek and mild, we were modest in our acceptance of abortion restrictions, we kept taking compromise. And now we will pay, as women, for not asserting our rights.

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Blogger Michael Ejercito said...

So now some women are whining because the gov't isn't gonna pay for their elective procedures.

I tell them to grow up.

November 8, 2009 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger L A Neumann said...


You're comment and position is uninformed and misguided. Some abortions are what you call "elective" and some are not. Having a child when that child is not planned is no small change in a woman's life. What the Stupak amendment does is extend Hyde so that even women who pay for their premiums will be unable to access abortion.

Currently 85% of women have abortion coverage under their private insurance. In other words, this is the greatest loss of women's privacy and rights in a generation.

The paternal or religious frame you seem to be working from says that women have no right to decide when they have children, that the doctor-patient relationship means nothing, that a woman's privacy and access to reproductive services are "immature" and that you don't give two licks about the health of women.

A woman who is forced to be pregnant when it isn't her wish is not "whining," she is wondering why her government demands and protects personal and bodily autonomy for some citizens (like men) and not others.

And if you give me any of that "she can keep her legs shut" shit, I'll write you off as a full nutjob. Such a comment would imply that women of all classes have access to proper and timely birth control. We all know that work over the past thirty years by "pro-life" groups has limited that access to necessary legal reproductive services.

Thanks for your comment. I hope that my reply gives you a little compassion and sense of equality.


November 8, 2009 at 12:47 PM  

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