Sunday :: Dec 20, 2009

Dearest Women: You Are But Political Footballs

by Turkana

The depravity of the health care debate can be distilled to the final capitulation: giving away reproductive rights, just so we can get a bill.

The bill retains the insurance industry anti-trust exemption. The bill anticipates billions of dollars in fines for the uninsured. The bill forces people to buy insurance, then doesn't guarantee that their medical needs will be met. Eliminating exclusion for pre-existing conditions is meaningless if insurers can simply refuse to pay for the treatments those pre-existing conditions necessitate. Stronger appeals processes are a nebulous concept. Continued coverage, during appeals, does not mean treatment.

But we'll improve it. That's what we are told. Just as this Congress has improved FISA and the "Patriot" Act, we can anticipate that this bill by this Congress will be improved.

It's deficit neutral. Because that bottom line was the bottom line. Not getting a quality bill, just keeping it deficit neutral. There is much to discuss, about that.

For now, though, it seems worth highlighting the words that open Section 1303 of the Manager's Amendment. Because the words themselves say everything that needs be said. Reproductive choice is a bargaining chip. For now, it is bargained away in health care plans offered through the exchange. Because choice continues to be of little absolute value. As with everything, with this bill, it's only a question of how many people we need sacrifice to get enough people covered that enough people won't care about the number of people sacrificed.

Read it and celebrate:

7 SEC. 1303. SPECIAL RULES. 8 (a) STATE OPT-OUT OF ABORTION COVERAGE.— 9 (1) IN GENERAL.—A State may elect to pro 10 hibit abortion coverage in qualified health plans of 11 fered through an Exchange in such State if such 12 State enacts a law to provide for such prohibition.

Let me clarify, in an absolute sense, what this bill enacts:

A State may elect to prohibit abortion coverage

All the caveats in the world won't diminish the impact of seeing those words enacted in law. Reproductive choice can be defined down. By a Democratic Congress. Women's health, women's lives, women's rights over their own bodies. A political football.

Update [2009-12-19 19:14:56 by Turkana]: In the comments, nandssmith has the reaction from the National Organization for Women:

The so-called health care reform bill now before the Senate, with the addition of Majority Leader Harry Reid's Manager's Amendment, amounts to a health insurance bill for half the population and a sweeping anti-abortion law for the rest of us. And by the way, it's the rest of us who voted the current leadership into both houses of Congress.

The National Organization for Women is outraged that Senate leadership would cave in to Sen. Ben Nelson, offering a compromise that amounts to a Stupak-like ban on insurance coverage for abortion care. Right-wing ideologues like Nelson and the Catholic Bishops may not understand this, but abortion is health care. And health care reform is not true reform if it denies women coverage for the full range of reproductive health services.

We call on all senators who consider themselves friends of women's rights to reject the Manager's Amendment, and if it remains, to defeat this cruelly over-compromised legislation.

Turkana :: 12:56 PM :: Comments (14) :: Digg It!