No Health Care for Half of Humanity

By Lina Thorne 

Women everywhere are shocked and appalled by the passage late last Saturday night of the “Stupak Amendment” to the House health insurance reform bill, which further strips us of our right to abortion, and thus, our right to make the most fundamental decisions that affect our lives.
 
Many progressive activists had argued for the past 10 months that while it would take time for President Obama to fix the problems of the ongoing war and torture, focusing our efforts on supporting his domestic agenda of providing expanded health insurance coverage was in our best interests. “Wait on the war; give him time.” Given that this agenda was supposedly progressive enough to ignore bloodshed, women and those who care about women are reeling by the way we were just “thrown under the bus.”
 
Can we step back for a moment and examine the situation that we’re in now? We’re living in the most powerful country on earth, which is unleashing the most violent military in the world on impoverished people in 3 different countries as we speak, and torturing people (still) in expanding prisons in Afghanistan as well as in Guantanamo Bay. The country is ruled by the first African-American president who also just won the Nobel Peace Prize, after a campaign that enormously mobilized women, people of color, gays, people against the war, and progressive people in general. One war is now escalating, partly in the name of defending women’s rights; while the pro-US president (Afghan President Karzai) oversees massive electoral fraud and new laws that legalize marital rape.
 
The U.S. is wracked with division over the crimes initiated by the previous regime, the continuing strain on its military and economy, and the culture wars that are now boiling over after simmering for so long: the social position of women, people of color, immigrants, LGBT people, and the role of traditional marriage in cementing a stable imperialist society. The organized forces that enthusiastically embraced the Bush presidency and everything it represented now howl and rage against the current president, who they label everything from “fascist-socialist” (sic) to “the anti-Christ” while the party in power, led by Obama, preaches to their followers “we must seek common ground.” The most prominent abortion doctor is shot while in church, and in response, violence and threats against clinics around the country increase. Armed racists gather outside of Democrat-organized public meetings without police repression, while students in Pittsburgh are gassed and beaten during the G20 meetings for the world’s elites.
 
The “progressive president” announces he’s against gay marriage on the basis of his religion, and denies that the health insurance reform he’s working to bring into being will become an “abortion bill” (or that it would provide coverage to undocumented immigrants). He appoints an anti-abortion, anti-birth control Catholic activist to direct the Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. And yet… and yet… we are told to have faith that this system will work. That we must be willing to compromise. That we must have the stamina to suck it up and work on the next congressional race in our area, and “push” the Democrats to fulfill one of the basic planks of their own party platform: abortion and birth control rights for women.
 
How did we get here? What can we do? Jodi Jacobson asks on RH Reality Check, “Do Catholic Bishops Run the United States Government?”  It’s true: the national Conference of Catholic Bishops met with congressional leaders (Democrats) the night before Stupak passed to demand further restrictions on women’s right to abortion. Stupak is a resident of C-Street in D.C. (the townhouse profiled by Jeff Sharlet in The Family as the center of a shadowy, powerful Dominionist  organization with deep government ties) It seems important here to review the basic fact that the Democrats have control over both the executive and legislative branches right now… and this is what they’re doing with it. Theocracy is still on the agenda.
 
Kate Harding writes for Salon, in Face it: The Democratic Party is Not for Women: “Eventually, after we've elected enough Democrats willing to trade away women's rights -- like the 64 who voted for the Stupak-Pitts amendment -- women will get pissed off and draw the line. And that might just be happening as we speak.”
 
Nancy Pelosi is still telling us she’s working on common ground. None of the supposedly pro-choice politicians that women have been relying on to defend our rights will say what Jane Fonda wrote in response to Stupak, about what’s really at stake here:“ People are often surprised that we are still fighting this battle for freedom of choice after so long. I’m not. I’ve come to understand that anti-choice and opposition to contraception has nothing to do with pro-life or pro-fetus; it has everything to do with power and who has it. It represents a mindset that values women mainly for their services as wives and sexual partners to men and as producers and rearers of children.
 
Reproduction and sexuality are keys to women’s empowerment. If a woman is able to determine the reproductive and sexual aspects of her life, it means she can also control and determine many other aspects of her life. When women are robbed of reproductive health and contraceptive decision-making, they lose an essential element of what it means to be a full human being.”
 
As the interesting exchange between Laura Flanders, Frances Kissling, Diane Archer, Eesha Pandit and Jill Filipovic on GritTV shows, there is energy out there right now crying to be marshaled.
 
What are we going to do?
 
Let’s stop seeking common ground with maniacs, stop tying our dreams to what’s deemed politically expedient, start saying what’s true, and start acting like human beings with some passion and principles! Without this basic right, women can never be free- abortion on demand and without apology!
 
I for one, will be at the next national meeting of World Can’t Wait, a resistance movement dedicated to reversing all this madness that has stayed true to its principles since it was founded 4 years ago to drive out the Bush regime, and is more needed than ever before. http://www.worldcantwait.net/index.php/component/content/11?task=view
 
And I invite all the freaked out, angry, ready-to-rumble women and men out there to join me in NYC November 21-22. More info here.  http://www.worldcantwait.net/index.php/home-mainmenu-289/5971-world-cant-wait-national-meeting-#comments