In Sunday’s New York Times, buried on page 34A, Robert Pear outlines what we can expect with Representative Joe Pitts as chair of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. Pitts’ path is a straight line to denying women their fundamental rights. He wants to get rid of a woman’s right to make her own determinations about her health and reproductive life.
Railing against the health care law, he claims that it uses federal funds to subsidize abortions. Just ain’t so, Joe. First, there is the Hyde Amendment which already is law and prevents this. Second, due to your actions along with your colleague, Bart Stupak, there are strict provisions against this. Pitts has introduced a bill that further restricts federal subsidies : “to pay for any abortion, or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion.”
For clarification, that means that if a person purchases a health care plan with her own money, but is part of a plan that others participate in and the other participants get some federal subsidies, that the person who purchased the plan can’t have abortion coverage? Is that right, Joe? Are you now limiting my right to buy insurance? Are you interfering in my right to choose my own insurance plan? Are you now in my pocket and in my uterus?
Of course, if you look at the compromise language that was put into the passed health care bill, it is equally bewildering. There are health care plans that may cover abortion but can’t use federal funds to cover them. (I wonder how many times this fact has to inserted?) So the person who is paying her premium has to send in two checks. For an online “bankophile” like myself that might present challenges as to how the bank is to specify this. This means I have to send it two checks just in case I find myself needing an abortion that at that moment I am not contemplating. For people who like to get what they pay for, will this encourage them to have an abortion periodically because they pay for it? Absurd, right? Equally absurd to have to write two checks. Equally absurd to think that insurance companies will go along with this new paper work. And of course, the insurance company has to segregate the federal the funds, not to mention offer the abortion rider in the first place.
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Maybe everyone should get to decide where her tax dollars are spent. Below I am purposing a scenario where I do not want something covered by my tax dollars:
What if I decided that it was morally wrong for men to use erectile dysfunction drugs and that I do not want my tax dollars subsidizing these drugs. I think we can safely assume there is a health care plan that offers to cover these drugs but also takes federal subsidies. Imagine if Rep. Pitts had to write two checks if he needed this drug. The first thing that he would realize that everyone at the bank and the insurance company knew his most intimate details because of the two checks. The second is the burden that it places on him and the insurance company. Third the invasion into his private life by the government.
But I fear I dream. It is only a woman’s right to bear or not bear children that falls under such scrutiny. It is only a woman’s right to control her own body that seems to be threatened.
As we look at this new Congress, it is time to have a cold hard look at the
facts. If those of us who believe that it a woman’s Right to control her own life truly believe this, then we must act. We must make our voices heard and stop sitting on the sidelines saying to ourselves that abortion and reproductive rights could never be taken away. The opponents are working hard to overturn Roe vs Wade and to make abortions, contraception and family planning a relic of the past. The sad truth is they could succeed if we do not work together to prevent it.
Gail Yamner, President
Abortion Laws Passed since May 2009: http://jactoo.blogspot.com/p/reproductive-choice.html