Monday, November 9, 2009

Under the Bus

We finally have a health care bill that's making some progress, so yay, right? But what did we have to do to accomplish this? Throw women under the bus, of course. In multiple ways. I'm still too burnt-out to write this myself, so here's a roundup.

First, there's the vagina tax. Tbogg at Firedoglake writes:
Just lay back and think of it as a Vagina Added Tax

Hey ladies! Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas thinks you should pay more for your insurance because you chose to have all that crazy plumbing with its nooks and crannies down there instead of a good old fashioned American penis.

This was an unhealthy choice on your part… like taking up smoking.

And Sharon Lerner asks Where's the Birth Control?

None of the bills emerging from the House and Senate require insurers to cover all the elements of a standard gynecological "well visit," leaving essential care such as pelvic exams, domestic violence screening, counseling about sexually transmitted diseases, and, perhaps most startlingly, the provision of birth control off the list of basic benefits all insurers must cover. Nor are these services protected from "cost sharing," which means that, depending on what's in the bill that emerges from the Senate, and, later, the contents of a final bill, women could wind up having to pay for some of these services out of their own pockets. So far, mammograms and Pap tests are covered in every version of the legislation.

Granted, Congress can't--and shouldn't--get into the business of spelling out every possible cause for a trip to the doctor. No one wants the process to collapse under a mountain of requests from special interest groups à la the Clinton mess in 1993. But women, half of all adult patients, are not a special interest group. And since both the House and Senate bills include lists of specific services that must be covered by health insurance companies and be provided without asking patients for additional money, it's hard to understand why all the services provided in a basic well-woman visit to the gynecologist isn't on them along with maternity care, newborn care, pediatric dental and vision services, and substance use disorder services.

And we haven't even touched on the abortion issue yet:
From Ezra Klein's A very bad deal to pass a very good bill:
Opposition from anti-abortion Democrats, driven in large part by aggressive activism from the Catholic Church, forced Democratic leadership to allow a vote on Bart Stupak's amendment limiting elective abortion coverage from both private and public insurers on the exchange.
Because of the limits placed on the exchanges, most of the participants will have some form of premium credit or affordable subsidy. That means most will be ineligible for abortion coverage. The idea that people are going to go out and purchase separate "abortion plans" is both cruel and laughable. If this amendment passes, it will mean that virtually all women with insurance through the exchange who find themselves in the unwanted and unexpected position of needing to terminate a pregnancy will not have coverage for the procedure. Abortion coverage will not be outlawed in this country. It will simply be tiered, reserved for those rich enough to afford insurance themselves or lucky enough to receive from their employers.

And finally, in Stupak Amendment Passes; 64 Dems Ask for Primary Opponents Rayne lists the hall of shame and calls for Dem primary opponents to run against them:
It’s a fundamental part of our belief system in the Democratic Party, that women have a right to privacy in their reproductive health care decisions. We’ve fought long and hard to protect this right.

And now we’ve seen decades of work to protect this fundamental human right dashed by our own Democratic representatives.

Many of you are going to say you’re walking away. And many more are going to rant and rave and carry on for a while.

This is when it’s time to gather resources and plan more carefully for the next phase in what is a lifelong effort. Democracy isn’t easy, after all. And she’s not cheap. We’re going to have to continue to fight, but we’re going to have to become even more effective.

Your thoughts?


  1. It's so discouraging that it's hard to know what to say. I don't think that every Democrat (or Republican) has to follow the party line in every way, but I do think that there are some fundamental issues which would make you cease to be a Democrat if you diverge from the party platform. And reproductive rights is one of those, IMO.

  2. "But women, half of all adult patients, are not a special interest group."


  3. I agree with Bailey - taking a negative position on reproductive rights is a deal breaker. It's all so discouraging, and I haven't heard anything about these "compromises" that were made in the MSM.

  4. Anonymous11/10/2009

    I agree with Rayne at Firedoglake. These reps don't deserve a shred of Dem support or any of our votes.

  5. My Congressional Rep (a Democrat!) voted for the Stupak Amendment. I sent him a nasty email basically telling him that if he wanted my vote, he sure as fuck should not be telling me what I can or can't do with my body.