The health care debate rages on. The whole thing upsets me, really. My father and I keep instituting a moratorium on talking about it because it’s so infuriating, and yet, within 10 minutes of seeing each other, we’re off and running on health care again. So many obvious solutions that aren’t being talked about. So much bigotry. So much backdoor dealing and refusal to respect the will of, well, a lot of Americans.
What’s especially infuriating me is that the abortion debate is being dragged into this. And that people are digging their heels in so thoroughly over it that it’s hanging up the entire discussion. There’s so much time being devoted to arguing about abortion that very real issues and problems are being ignored. Dare I say it? We are fiddling while Rome burns, people.
It goes like this: It’s been pretty clearly decided that any type of reform of the health care system is going to exclude abortion services. Most proposals for reform specifically and explicitly state that federal funds will not be used for abortion services.
And now, we have the Stupak proposal, which would effectively bar private insurers from covering abortion if government subsidies are used to purchase coverage.
This pisses me off. I really, really, really cannot express how strongly it pisses me off. To selectively deny coverage in this way is, well, it’s monumentally offensive. Especially since abortion is a very common service which is needed for a lot of reasons, by a lot of women. This specific exclusion hurts low income women most of all, of course, because they struggle to pay for abortion services. Apparently the government would prefer that they remain pregnant and have children they cannot afford and do not want.
But, now it’s getting even more complicated. It’s not enough to deny abortion services. People, including supposedly liberal Democrats (and people wonder why I am registered non partisan), want to actively restrict access to abortion. It’s not enough to say that low income women who qualify for government programs can’t get abortions through those programs. Now, these elected officials would like to exert controls over women’s bodies.
Denial of coverage is bad enough, because, yes, it does act as a de facto barrier to abortion services for many women. If nothing else, it forces women to wait longer to get an abortion, which can push them into the realm of needing a “late-term” abortion, a service which is more expensive and harder to access. But to structure anti-choice measures which will actively restrict women from controlling their bodies into health care legislation?!
Health care is not about morality. Reform of the health care system is not about forcing your morals and beliefs on someone else, or, rather, it shouldn’t be. Reform should be about ensuring that everyone in America has access to safe, competent, respectful medical care, no matter what they need that care for. To make sure that people are not going bankrupt because of health expenses. To make sure that early intervention is provided for health problems, before they have an opportunity to balloon into something bigger and potentially very problematic.
It is, yeah, about valuing human life. The lives of breathing humans on this Earth who need health care. It’s not an appropriate venue for debating fetal personhood, for trying to restrict women’s lives, for sneaking in anti-choice clauses. It’s not an appropriate venue for so-called liberals to capitulate, to say “ok, we’re going to let you turn women into second class citizens if it’s the only way to pass reform.” It’s not an appropriate venue for slut shaming, for ableism, for sexism, for misogyny. All of which are cropping up on a regular basis in Congress.
The fact is that conservatives (and a fair number of alleged liberals) don’t really want health care reform, and they’ve found an ideal sticking point. If it wasn’t abortion, it would be something else, because the entire point here is to avoid having to actually reform the system. To reject the idea that health care is a right and that everyone should be able to access health services. Abortion is just incredibly convenient because it is such a contentious issue in the United States.
I would rather that my body not be used as a sticking point for political convenience. I would rather that my body not be used, honestly, as a political tool. It is extremely disempowering to know that my body and bodies like it are being used to hold up the entire health care debate in this country, that we red herrings being used to distract from the real issues and the big picture.
This is not about abortion.
It’s about whether or not women should have autonomy over their own bodies. It’s about how far the system and the American people can be pushed. How far can we go, when it comes to rolling back women’s rights? How much will the public take before serious pushback starts to happen? Denial of abortion services? Denial of access to birth control? Denial of all women’s health services?
And it’s about a refusal to engage in good faith. The health care debate has been flawed from the start, and this is just yet another example of the way in which the bargaining and the discussion are being twisted to political ends. These people don’t care, really, about whether or not abortion happens, although they certainly are threatened by women who decide that their bodies are their own. They just need something to latch on to, to point to, so that when people say “why are you holding up the health care debate, why are you not engaging in good faith, when are you going to do something,” they can say “well, I have morals.“
We all have morals. My morals include not marginalizing people by denying them health services or telling them what they can do with their bodies. And my morals include not using marginalized bodies as political tools for self-advancement. Or for any other reason, really.