Monday, November 09, 2009

You take the good, you take the bad.

So, as you know by now, the health insurance reform bill passed the House this weekend. Unfortunately, it passed with the Stupak-Pitts amendment, which basically prevents women from getting insurance--paid for with their own money--to cover legal medical procedures. In other words, under the proposed plan, many of us would lose reproductive health coverage that we currently have.

From RH Reality Check, here's what the amendment does:

  • Prohibits individuals who receive the affordability tax credits from purchasing a private insurance plan that covers abortion, despite the fact that a majority of health insurance plans currently cover abortion.
  • Results in a de facto ban on private insurance companies providing abortion coverage in the health insurance exchange, since the vast majority of participants would receive affordability tax credits.
  • Prohibits the public option from providing abortion care, despite the fact that it would be funded through private premium dollars.

As usual, the women with the fewest resources would suffer most.

There's further information here. I've also posted a lot of links to commentary on this in google reader today.

Apparently the amendment can be stripped out by the conference committee, but I'm not holding my breath. Here's what the Washington Post says:
But abortion-rights supporters are vowing to strip the amendment out, as the focus turns to the Senate and the conference committee that would resolve differences between the two bills.

Although House liberals voted for the bill with the amendment to keep the process moving forward, Rep. Diana DeGette (Colo.) said she has collected more than 40 signatures from House Democrats vowing to oppose any final bill that includes the amendment -- enough to block passage.

"There's going to be a firestorm here," DeGette said. "Women are going to realize that a Democratic-controlled House has passed legislation that would prohibit women paying for abortions with their own funds. . . . We're not going to let this into law."
Writes Ann of Feministing:
[The amendment] further segregates abortion as something different, off the menu of regular health care. It is a huge backward step in the battle to convey--not just politically, but to women in their everyday lives--that reproductive health care is normal and necessary, and must be there if (or, more accurately, when) you need it.

This also sets apart women's rights from the Democratic/progressive/whatever agenda. As something expendable. But fundamental rights for women are not peripheral. They are core. And not just because of so-called "progressive" values. In a political sense, too: Seeing as how the Democratic party relies on women voters to win elections, you would think they would have come around to this no-brainer by now.


  1. I made a passing reference to this on Twitter/Facebook, but on Saturday, I walked by the capitol and right outside the Cannon House Office Building and observed a tiny but vocal group of anti-abortion protesters yelling about the health care bill while waving around Gadsden flags.

    It attracted a few regular teabaggers who just wanted to yell about health care and out "fascist socialist" president, but the anti-abortion bunch was the loudest. And at least half were women.

    "Don't tread on me." Sure. Okay. Translation: "Don't tread on my freedom to tread all over women."

  2. Ugh. I really can't say much more.

  3. Thanks for writing about this. It's tough. I want health care reform to pass with all my heart, but I don't want it to come at the expense of women's right to reproductive health and freedom. We have to do something about this!

  4. I'm worried about how the reach of this ammendment could be stretched to affect women getting not just what we typically think of as abortions, but also those getting "missed abortions" like I did this past spring. Had my insurance not covered the procedure, I would have had to pay just shy of $12,000 for the 15-min procedure.

    Not that I'm not equallly concerned about women's rights over their own reproductive choices in general -- it's just that this particularly struck me, given the year I've had.


  5. Melinda, exactly. Someone actually posted on RH Reality Check yesterday about this exact thing: here's the link. And then there's a bunch of bullshizz in the comments.