Women of the Progressive Voting Bloc, Stand Up!

Women of the Progressive Voting Bloc, Stand Up!
My Body My Will
My Body My Will

Women of the progressive voting bloc, how long have we been sleeping? I’m not sure how we got here, but our medical rights are not being honored as they should be.

Obamacare is doing some great things for women. I do love that name, “Obamacare”. Of course, it’s supposed to be a slur per the Right, but I can’t imagine a thing more complimentary of this President and more indicative of the amazing legislative success he’s had than passing healthcare reform. The term Obamacare reflects those values. I can see it in history books years from now, when this President is finally given his due.

Just look at what he’s done for us; as of September 23, all new health plans are required to cover particular preventative health services with no co-payments or deductibles, like mammograms, smoking cessation treatment, cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, and pap smears. It’s now illegal to charge women more than men for insurance (can you believe this was legal before? Hello?) We will now have direct access to obstetrical and gynecological care, meaning we won’t need a referral for these services. And like everyone included under new health plans, we’ll be able to appeal our insurer’s decisions to an independent third party. That’s some hot change there.

Thank you, President Obama and the Democrats.

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Here’s the problem: According to the National Women’s Law Center, “The Administration decided — without justification in law or policy — to ban abortion coverage in the newly created Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans. This ban would prevent women with serious pre-existing medical conditions — like cancer or diabetes — from getting the abortion coverage they need to protect their health. And it will not even allow women the ability to pay for such coverage with their own private premium dollars. This would leave vulnerable women without the medical services they need.”

Perhaps I’m way too cynical, but I suspect that with Democrats facing reelection this fall they will never vote in favor of anything remotely related to abortion services. I suspect they will duck their heads and hope we don’t say anything. I suspect we will swallow our loss, take one for the team, and keep hoping.

How did we get here? How did we get to a place where conservatives are running faux-feminist Mama Grizzles after co-opting the name for our struggle for equal rights and then tossing all of our work out of a speeding car window until some passing Democrat catches a few tattered pages of our agenda and struggles to give them mouth-to-mouth.

Notice how the issue of our rights over our bodies keeps getting chipped, chipped away? If a poor woman has cancer and needs an abortion, her insurance can refuse her. I just don’t get this. How can it be legal for our lives to be worth less than anyone else’s simply because we can procreate? This is not a moral issue, it’s a medical issue. It has nothing to do with public funding; it has everything to do with a woman’s right to purchase extra coverage for a medical procedure she has a legal right to receive.

We’ve allowed the Right to frame the abortion argument for too long. We have been too ready to give up our rights in order to achieve larger changes. We’ve let our rights be chipped away, slowly over time, until it has become an impossibility for a Democratic majority to support abortion coverage in times of dire medical health.

How long have we been sleeping?

This is the time to raise our voices to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, loudly and clearly.

The women’s vote is a huge voting block, much coveted by both parties. While I can’t imagine voting for any modern day Republican, we must make the Democratic Party understand that the majority favor womens’ freedom, right to choose, and right to make medical decisions for ourselves. We expect our health issues to be taken as seriously as a man’s are. We do not expect to be told that if we have cancer and need an abortion, our medical insurance won’t cover it.

Bravo to the Democrats and President Obama for passing healthcare reform. Y’all are doing great. Now, after you keep your seats this fall, would you please take our votes as the mandate they are intended to be and take bold, decisive action to protect the equal rights of women? And by women, we mean to infer the equal rights of all people. We mean repealing DADT. We mean equal rights for all.

We expect you all to take us forward, not backward. We will be right there, backing you up, and taking back ownership of the feminist movement.

When you hear us roar, that ain’t no Mama Grizzly taking orders from Big Daddy. That’s us; fiercely independent modern women who are making it on our own with no help from Phillis Schlafly’s party. We come in all shapes, sizes and colors. We are working women, moms, care-takers, artists, home-makers and business owners. We expect to be taken seriously.

We aren’t going to wink and cheer while you chip away at our rights. We are the largest voting bloc in this country. Pay attention.

Image Courtesy of The Washington Pro Choice Rally / Mine Photos by Kristalyn Bunyan

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