Sunday, December 20, 2009

There must be a line…a wall to hit…or the struggle for reproductive justice is merely a suggestion.

I am a woman of color who has a pre-existing condition...more than one, if you count my high blood pressure.

I have been an adult without health care insurance and I have too many friends to count who do not have health insurance coverage right now.

Should I lose my job I would lose my coverage…and, because of my pre-existing condition, I would not be able to buy coverage on the open market.

That’s not speculation…I’ve looked into it and my black ass wasn’t able to get a nibble at multiple ponds.

So, I’m saying this from a place of vulnerability and I want all y’all who read this to know that.

There must be a line…a wall to hit…or the struggle for reproductive justice is merely a suggestion.

It's just a request.

A thing that gets mentioned politely whenever health care is being discussed.

"Oh, would you mind not throwing women under the bus while you get your reform on?"

"Could you, pretty please, not mandate that women purchase health care insurance that fails to cover the full spectrum of reproductive health care services?"

"Would you be so kind as to not leave military women uncovered…again…to not leave women uniquely worse off after healthcare reform than we were before you started?"

There must be a line…and it galls me to even write that because I hate negotiating from a place of “let’s fight like mad for the status quo, y'all!”

But there must be a line…a wall…a place that is acceptable and then the place right in front of it that is unacceptable.

The Senate has crossed that line.

This health care reform bill, negotiated on the backs of women and soon to be presented for a vote with political boots placed firmly on the throat of reproductive justice, is unacceptable.

I’m saying that knowing full well what’s at stake…because women’s health is not worth less than the health of others.

And I’m saying that knowing that there but for my current benefit package go I…because I’ve had to use my insurance to pay for fibroid surgery that would have bankrupted me otherwise or that I would have not been able to have for financial reasons despite the dire consequences.

I oppose the Senate health care reform bill on the grounds that, in its current form, it violates the rights of women.

I oppose the Senate health care reform bill on the grounds that, in its current form, it singles out a legal medical procedure for unprecedented restrictions thus inviting the United States government into every doctor’s office so they can tell women and their health care providers what the Senate thinks is best for them…right for them…healthy for them…or not approved for coverage like it used to be and currently is even though it is legal in this country.

I oppose the Senate health care reform bill because,at the very least, it should not leave women worse off that we were before reform began…because women helped elect these fools to the Senate and, to vary a quote from my beloved Grandmere, “we brought your asses into office and we can vote your asses out.”

I am disgusted…disappointed…not surprised but not defeated either.

So, don’t tell me that we …women…should take one for the team.

Don’t tell me that we…women…should casually allow government to roll back the clock on legal rights people risked their lives to gain because women’s lives were, and should this legislation pass in its current form will once again, be at stake.

Don’t tell me to make a compromise that, in the same situation, you would not make and, funny enough, were not asked to make because it’s never The Man being told his vasectomy won’t be covered or his Viagra won’t be covered or his prostate surgery won’t be covered.

Is it.

No, it’s women…time after motherfucking time…who are told that our reproductive health care must be uniquely regulated, despite legality, by The Man…and that we, despite our needs and that same curiously overlooked egality, must take one for the team…again.

Fuck that.

Fuck it!

‘Cause a team without women is fucked from jump anyway.

There must be a line…

...a wall to hit…

...or all that is the movement for reproductive justice is just a silly social circle of idealistic little children tossing out suggestions to the amusement of their paternalistic rulers.

Take a step back.

And then another.

And then another followed by one more until all of the sudden the only people benefiting from health care reform are the affluent straight white men of power who were already sitting pretty when this reform shit began.

Or the affluent women who can fly elsewhere to access the reproductive health care they opposed for form but would use at the drop of a dime...make that a lot of dimes...should they find themselves in need of the services they would deny the rest of us.

Yeah, fuck that.

I didn’t just work my ass off for an entire year...longer if you count the election...to make "change" that leaves women worse off.

Hold the line, people.

Defend the wall, y'all.

This is about our rights, enforced by law, until it isn’t.

And it'll be a cold day in Hades when I give them up without a fight...

27 comments:

Blue said...

Agreed. I oppose the bill for all the reasons you cite and the fact that it was total shit from its inception. This cannot in any measure be considered reform. The only possible people that may (and it is only may) see improvement are those poor people without any insurance. A great number of Americans who have health care insurance already can't avail themselves of actual care for the high costs of co-pays and deductibles so they get virtually nothing for their premiums ... not even peace of mind.

For them, no doubt their premiums will rise (and will be mandatory) and they will not even be left at status quo but will be in more dire straits.

Health care retro-form would be more apt.

. said...

Right on! From your lips/keyboard to so-called "leadership's" ears!

lilalia said...

Having received the benefits of social medical insurance for the last 30 years both in Canada and Germany, I can only say that in a civilized culture you shouldn't be in the position of vulnerability you are in. I always thought that it didn't matter what the conditions of health bill were, as long as a bill got through. For, all such bill continue change and reform. Having said this, a bill without a public option and with the concessions that are obviously detrimental for women... I am not so sure whether your bar of your health bill is set so low that there is not leverage possible. I sympathize with you and all the others in similar predicaments.

Kelley said...

I'm right there beside you, torch and pitchfork at the ready.

Jeanine said...

Nope.

Writing from a "place of vulnerability" myself -- grad student with two small children and a husband out of a job (and health care) in two weeks --- I have to say this bill, for all its many faults, is better than nothing.

Hella faint praise, I know.

My wall, my place to hit, stops when I contemplate my kids having no place to go for the next ear infection or round of vaccinations.

Does this make me less committed to reproductive rights? You offend me by that suggestion.

The late, great, Molly Ivins, when writing about the 2000 elections, had some words that are spot-on here.


Here's the problem: Government matters most to people on the margins. If I may be blunt about this, we live in a society where the effluent flows downhill. And the people on the bottom are drowning in it.

And it is precisely those citizens — whose lives sometimes literally depend on the difference between a politician who really does have a plan to help with the cost of prescription drugs and one who is only pretending that he does — whose lives can be harmed by your idealism.

...

When you are barely making it in this society, hanging on by your fingernails, with every unexpected expense a crisis, it matters which is the lesser of two evils.

Jeanine said...

Nope.

Writing from a "place of vulnerability" myself -- grad student with two small children and a husband out of a job (and health care) in two weeks --- I have to say this bill, for all its many faults, is better than nothing.

Hella faint praise, I know.

My wall, my place to hit, stops when I contemplate my kids having no place to go for the next ear infection or round of vaccinations.

Does this make me less committed to reproductive rights? You offend me by that suggestion.

The late, great, Molly Ivins, when writing about the 2000 elections, had some words that are spot-on here.


Here's the problem: Government matters most to people on the margins. If I may be blunt about this, we live in a society where the effluent flows downhill. And the people on the bottom are drowning in it.

And it is precisely those citizens — whose lives sometimes literally depend on the difference between a politician who really does have a plan to help with the cost of prescription drugs and one who is only pretending that he does — whose lives can be harmed by your idealism.

...

When you are barely making it in this society, hanging on by your fingernails, with every unexpected expense a crisis, it matters which is the lesser of two evils.

Fresh Hell, Texas said...

"Oh, would you mind not throwing women under the bus while you get your reform on?"

Hell, yes.

I wanted so badly to believe that this time around, with this administration, I would not have to worry about this. Damn it all to hell, I'm am so pissed off and disappointed and angry but I am not one bit surprised.

I've been calling my reps, donating, writing letters. What else can I do? What are others doing right now?

Kathleen

EHR said...

With all due respect, Jeanine, the line is different for different women, and I don't think Shark fu is suggesting that we just chuck the whole thing. The bill IS unacceptable as it is, even for you from the sounds of it, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't happen at all; it just seriously needs to be fixed. We are standing with you on this, not against you.

Patrick said...

@ Jeanine...

While I agree that those on the absolute fringes may possibly benefit (hell, I'm one of them) I must disagree that some legislation is better than none. I just graduated from college, am unemployed, struggling to find work, have mounting debt and wonder how I'm going to take care of my immediate medical needs, not to mention feed myself, keep my apartment and yada yada...

However, I do not want to ride on the misfortune of all of the women who will be left behind with the passing of this "reform." Those congress people do not represent me and clearly don't represent half of the people who elevated them to their esteemed positions.

So sad that we must seemingly wait for shit to not only hit the fan, but slather the walls as well.

Shark-fu said...

Dear racist shit who left a comment that your ignorant ass should have known would be rejected...

I was born in Minnesota, dumb ass...I AM home...and my people have been here for over 300 years.

Anyone needs to get gone, it's your rancid ass.

As for trying to lure me over to visit what I'm sure is an impressively insulting blog with evil primate images and such...let's not and say we did, hmm?

I've seen racists before and their blogs...see one and you've seen them all.

Now, shoo fly...shoo.

Humans have blogging to do...

Rileysdtr said...

Point of information "just in case" - each state has a BlueCross and/or BlueShield program that (as they are reimbursed by Medicaid) cannot reject applicants for pre-existing conditions. It's fairly expensive, but individual insurance through BCBS is available in each state that receives Medicaid, which is currently all of them.

I know of which I speak - my sister has no employer health insurance and a (we think in remission) brain tumor; she was able to purchase coverage last year despite a whopping pre-existing condition.

Further, each state should have some version of a CHIP - Children's Health Insurance Program - designed for covering minor kids whose parents don't have health insurance. Jeanine, PLEASE look this up in case the unfortunate happens. It covers basic healthcare, immunizations, and so on.

As someone who has insurance but didn't always and was envious of my Canadian cousins, I am all for socialized medicine IF we can figure out a way to pay for it. Bankrupting the current system does no favors to anyone.

Alyssa said...

Thanks for this post. It's excellent.

Anonymous said...

First let me say that I am depressed and angry about the current health bill. I don't think we need to just pass anything in order to give the President a "win".

I am also pro-choice but am fine if all abortions are not covered under the provisions of a health care bill. I think that abortion to protect the life of the mother or to terminate pregnancy as a result of rape or incest is covered (or it was, the bill changes daily).
Maybe we can't just cover everything. Not covering abortion will not make it illegal.

The number of women seeking elective abortions pales in comparison to the number of women needing treatment for cancer, heart disease, mental illness and other life threatening diseases.

Women want and need coverage for their children. I would gladly sacrifice elective abortions if universal care and prevention of chronic disease was guaranteed to all Americans.

I oppose the health care bill in its current form because it rewards the insurance companies by guaranteeing that they will have even more clients to generate profits for their monopolies. I really want affordable health care to be available to all.

BTW I am an uninsured cancer survivor who cannot purchase insurance because of the pre-existing condition and am not likely to get another job where insurance is offered because of my age.

I am terribly disappointed in the bill in its current state.

anti-anti said...

"The number of women seeking elective abortions pales in comparison to the number of women needing treatment for cancer, heart disease, mental illness and other life threatening diseases."

No offense Anonymous, but this is simply untrue. Abortion is the most common medical procedure in this country, with 1-2 million (legal) procedures occurring yearly. Add in the covert abortions and I'm confident that number would nearly double. And these are just the abortions that are performed, not the ones that are sought. I recently worked for an abortion fund and referral service, and there were many, many women seeking abortions that we simply could not help. And, as someone who has spent much of my time in the mental illness advocacy field, treatment for mental illness is rarely sought relative to the number of people suffering from them. So your argument on treatment-seeking behavior requires a bit more research.

While restricting funding for abortion care will not make abortion de jure illegal, it becomes de facto illegal because the cost is so prohibitive for many women, particularly those who seek and use abortion services the most, that it becomes impossible to obtain. Even if cost were no object, women in very conservative states (I'm thinking Mississippi, South Dakota) and remote areas have a hell of a time getting to clinics. Add in the cost of travel (air travel for many women) and lodging, and you've got a huge expense as far as time, money, and emotional investment.

If you've never worked in the abortion world it's easy to take these things for granted. But having worked there and having nearly lost my mind with all the angst and confusion of manipulating the abortion service monster, I can appreciate how much more there is to abortion care than meets the eye and how important it is to keep accessible.

EAMD said...

Thank you. Finals have kept me from blogging much in recent days, but I look forward to getting all the putrid anger out of my system.

Also, another gem from the Senate...

http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/14571/reid-and-senate-democrats-to-keep-gay-tax-on-health-benefits

Anonymous said...

It comes to my mind that almost a year ago now we voted for a president and congress and senate that we thought would make some changes and it seems that with everyday they simply cow tow to the few republihaters in their yanks. How is it that the inmates are still running the assylum. I spent money I did not have to go to the inauguration because I thought we really could depend on this president and these representatives. They have come up very short indeed. We are still sending troops to war, we still can not get sick, find work, embrace our right to life, liberty, and the pusuit of happiness. When do the rest of us get to catch a break?

slythwolf said...

Agreed so hard.

I am in that place where you are saying you would be if. Not because of a preexisting condition, but because I do not have a job and I cannot fucking afford to pay for health insurance. So I don't have any. I have the state program that covers birth control and pap smears, and that's it.

I chose that over the state "adult medical plan" that doesn't cover birth control. (Why the state of Michigan will not let me have both at the same time I couldn't tell you.) Because I might get sick, and I might get hurt. But I might not. Every month I will need my birth control. Every year I will need my pap smear. Regardless.

I am broke as shit, I'm about to get back on food stamps, I'm fighting tooth and nail for a part-time minimum wage job to pay part of my rent, and I don't have health insurance. Would rather go on not having it than this shit. Either I and the 52% of Americans who share my gender are citizens, or we are not. There is no greater good that does not include us.

Suzanne said...

*standing on chair clapping wildly*

thank you shark fu for so clearly articulating a core problem with this so called health reform bill.

there must be a line indeed. thank you for helping me define what that line must be.

Anonymous said...

Anti, anti,
I’m not offended, I just disagree.

While abortion may be the single most common surgical procedure in the U.S. all treatment does not involve surgery.

Uninsured women are dying due to lack of diagnosis and treatment for hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes and a host of other ailments that can be treated and controlled more effectively if discovered in the early stages.

Once again, while abortion may be the single most common surgical procedure in the U.S., collectively, hysterectomy, mastectomy, appendectomy and other life saving surgeries eclipse the number of abortions performed yearly in America.

Abortion is not the only reproductive health issue. According to the National Institute of Reproductive Health, there are approximately 17 million uninsured women in this country. Of that group, 51% had no regular doctor. • 42% did not fill prescriptions due to costs • 67% needed care but didn’t get it due to costs. • 40% did not obtain a pap test. An increase in the number of uninsured pregnant women has led to an increase in infant mortality. AA women have an infant mortality rate of 11.13. this is shockingly high.

http://mlyon01.wordpress.com/2009/06/01/growing-impact-of-us-healthcare-crisis-on-women/


We are talking about women’s health but women also have fathers, husbands, brothers, sons who need health care. We know who most often become care takers to these individuals. 43 million uninsured. Vs. 1-2 million. I believe abortion should be safe and legal but I guess I’m OK if it is not free if that is what it takes to provide coverage to the vast majority of the uninsured.
I
This argument is pretty much meaningless at this time, however, as the insurance companies have won. We’re all screwed.

"as someone who has spent much of my time in the mental illness advocacy field, treatment for mental illness is rarely sought relative to the number of people suffering from them."

I’ve also worked on mental health parity issues (with very little success). While it is true that many people who could benefit from these services don’t seek treatment, many who would seek treatment don’t because their health insurance plans do not cover it. This is especially true for parents who would like help for their children.

Shark-fu said...

It is because abortion is not the only reproductive health care issue that I oppose this bill in its current form.

And let's ponder that for a moment...abortion IS a reproductive health care issue that is being erase from a health care bill.

Nice.

Walk with me on this.

#1 - the sausage isn't done yet but some of y'all are about to dig in. There is time to address this in conference - now is not the time to act as if it is no big deal. By doing that we are sending a dangerous message...and I, for one, am more than a little freaked out that folks are so ready to send it.

#2 - Should this mess become law we will have allowed the federal government to define abortion services as not health care - and let me assure you the ramifications of that will seep into your life when you lest want them to.

But hey...maybe that's what its going to take. Maybe women will have to be denied emergency contraception to learn that these fools consider it an abortion pill and are working at the state level to define it that way.

Maybe women will have to be denied a hysterectomy to learn that these folks are fighting to protect doctors' rights sover patients' rights in my home state of Missouri and states all over this nation...and why the heck not, since what's health care and what's not is debatable.

Maybe women will have to have their prescription rejected to learn that many of these folks define the pill as abortion...condoms as abortion...and they are working RIGHT NOW at the state level to write their dogma into law.

So, what the hell. I'm tired after working for over a year to defend something that's apparently not that big of a deal.

Silly me.

Let's empower the anti choice movement and let their will be done...again.

Maybe we've gotta fight this fight from the beginning again so that we can better understand that there is a reason you don't want to take one step back...there is a reason you don't want to erase the health care of abortion services from a health care reform bill (Lawd, give me strength)...and there is a reason there is a reproductive justice movement.

We've opened the door to a vampire here...and vampires will do what they do.

berdawn said...

The most troubling thing about this bill is not one that anyone here has brought up: the bill allows states to BAR COVERAGE for abortions to be performed in the stage.

Anonymous, while I see how needed insurance reform is (and let's not kid ourselves, this has little to do with healthcare--my dr doesn't give a fuck about any pre-existing conditions I may have--and everything to do with insurance) I think that you'll agree that will severely restrict access, much more than perhaps you were aware. It may not mean much to you, but to a woman in the middle of Ben Nelson's Nebraska, terminating a pregnancy simply is no longer a choice.

momstinfoilhat said...

Thank you thank you thank you.

One point that specifically frosts my shorts (before and while using abortion as a chess piece does) is that neither version of the health care reform bill required contraceptive coverage.

Huh???

I think we need to start pushing for both, of course, but expose this to show the hypocrisy of the anti-choice crew. If they want to reduce abortions, there's one proven way to do it. Reduce unplanned pregnancy by increasing contraceptive use and access.

Jeanine said...

Do we really think if we say no to this bill we'll get a crack at something better?

Do you think passing the bill empowers the anti-choice forces any more than colossal failure of the bill will?

I don't really know, but it seems like a gamble to me. And potentially getting health care to 30 million people who can't get it now seems like too big of a pot to leave on the table.

I really respect all opinions here -- I think maybe being in Texas for many years (and a former employee of the Texas Legislature, Lord help me) has left me a little more willing to settle for the lesser of two evils. There are a lot of evils out there. But maybe I need to recover the will to be pissed off.

I totally agree with the general assessment that the bill is a shit sandwich. And women, again, are getting the biggest half.

Fight the good fight, y'all. And thanks for all the suggestions for health insurance.

Shark-fu said...

Jeanine...
With all due respect, we can't say no to something that isn't finished being made...and it isn't, unless the legislative process changed on me overnight...so why throw up our hands and accept defeat now?

It sends the wrong message...and don't think the antis aren't gearing up to dance a jig over this mess.

And there are things that can still be done, no matter what Brian Williams tells you during the 5:30pm news. It's my responsibility as a voter to speak this truth to those in elected power.

So, here's what we have - an opportunity to raise our voices in opposition to the removal of reproductive health care from the health care reform bill (and yes, they did not include birth control so don't think for one second there won't be another fight over that later)so that we can either stop this bus before it runs us over or at least have given the kind of fight people give when they really believe in something.

And I'm holding on desperately right now to the hope that those who claim to be pro-choice still believe in protecting a woman's right to chose.

pitbullgirl65 said...

It comes to my mind that almost a year ago now we voted for a president and congress and senate that we thought would make some changes and it seems that with everyday they simply cow tow to the few republihaters in their yanks.

YES!! Why oh why are the Dems such cowards? And why is Obama reaching out to everyone(including the racist Rethuglicians) rather then the liberals who believed in him?
Damn all of them.
Think how much better we'd been off if Ms.Chishom had been elected!

Anonymous said...

When I hear all this talk and focus on abortion I always wonder what they are really covering up. What real mess is going to be thrown at us? I agree that this is a way to get around a law that the Supreme Court said is a woman's right. I also question why after 30 years they keep bringing up the question and why it keeps working to stall everything? Abortion rights have been decided, a law has been written. If you don't believe in getting abortions then don't get one. If you are male and have never had to make this most difficult of decisions, sit down and shut up. If you are female and hating on women who exercise their right to choice, then sit down and shut up. This really is an individual's decision. Their decent is used to strip women of so much more than abortion. What is their problem? Why do they hate women so or think women can be sacrificed at will?

NancyP said...

Some thought should be given to starting / expanding 501c3 nonprofit abortion funding organizations, organizations that provide non-emergent emergency contraception pills at cost for those who can afford it or lower than cost for those who can't afford it, and so on. There's a place for organizations that can conduct most of their business by telephone and can operate out of state. These sorts of organizations should be funded by women wanting to donate to an underfunded tax-deductible charitable organization specifically benefiting women. Let the men donate to the United Way, food banks, or to other general funds.