exciting, informative, snarky, and very likely fabricated tales of life as an american expat in london

the view from under the bus

by Jen at 8:38 pm on 13.11.2009Comments Off
filed under: like a fish needs a bicycle, rant and rage

i’ve held off on commenting on the stupak-pitts amendment to the healthcare bill which was passed by the u.s. house of representatives this week in part because i’ve found it difficult to put my feelings into words, and in part because i feel others have said it sooo much better than i.

(if you haven’t been paying particular attention to the political machinations around this issue in the states, here’s a quick recap:right before this version of the healthcare bill was to be voted on, some right-to-life republicans and democrats [oooh, i accidentally just typed demoncrats - freudian slip?] attached a last-minute amendment which forbids any health care plan, private or public, from offering abortion services if they wish to accept even one federally subsidised customer. since the overwhelming majority of new customers who will be purchasing plans are the soon-to-be-subsidised poor who currently cannot afford health care, this effectively forces providers to choose between any new business, or covering abortions, *and* prevents any poor people from accessing abortion services as part of their mainstream reproductive health coverage.)

the phrase “thrown under the bus” has been tossed around a lot, and that encompasses some of the sentiment that i feel. women were definitely run over here in the name of expediency and pragamatism – those voices that continue to try to convince us that the “compromise” was necessary to get any kind of bill passed.

but what comes closer is this: pure unadulterated ire. how dare you. how very fucking dare you. this was no compromise – a compromise is when you give away some of what you want in order to get more of what you want. the failure here is the lack of recognition that abortion rights do not fall into the “want” category. *rights* are not *wants*. they’re not pie-in-the-sky wishes – they are full-fledged-constitutionally-enshrined-and-protected rights. they are not, therefore, something which can be put into the pot as ante. they are not political capital to be traded away like marbles.

they are womens’ *rights*, damnit, and they are mine and hers and hers, and you can’t just take them away when it suits you. but when only 76 of the 435 representatives are women, i suppose it’s easy for the rest of them to forget.

abortion is the single most common surgical procedure carried out – the idea that health plans not only should not, but *must not* cover it because 64 democrats (62 of whom were men) said so is completely out of touch with reality. are these same providers banned from covering vasectomies because of the religious views of a few? i don’t even need to check to know that they’re not.

the most reprehensible bit is that it is the most vulnerable women that are subjugated to the moralistic dictates of others – poor women who cannot afford their own private-pay healthcare, who likely then cannot afford their own private-pay abortion… yet are somehow supposed to be able to afford to raise a child? the courts have said that a woman’s right to privacy entitles her to primacy over her reproduction. but 64 democrats think as long as *they* hold the purse strings, that right is superceded by their own religious beliefs, fuckyouverymuch. in other words, if you’re dependent on the government for help with healthcare, then we will tell you what their god says you can and cannot do with your uterus.

it’s hostile paternalism of the very worst kind – the kind where games are played with people’s legal rights and doctors are bent to the political will of a few, because a group of 64 representatives think they above all others, know what’s best for women living in america. dangling a woman’s right to control her own body like a playtoy on a string, just out of reach… unless you have the cash to buy an indulgence. rich women don’t have to worry about anyone else’s god but their own.

so really, “thrown under the bus” isn’t the half of it. poor women have been put back under the jackboot of the morality police, and stripped bare of their most basic civil right – the right to control over their body. i’m furious at the newest reminder that my rights and hers and hers and hers, all hang in the balance of just a few elected individuals. i’m angry that once again i’m forced to sit here and stew while hoping that someone else is brave enough to stand up for me and her and her and her. it’s a special kind of torture to have to watch your autonomy twist in the breeze. and that’s not sacrificing women voters for the sake of practicality or compromise – that’s creating a women’s-only fucking abu ghraib.

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