Saturday, March 06, 2010

The infantilization of women continues

I never write about abortion, which could be kind of a cowardly thing to do -- I hate getting yelled at -- but in the case of that particular issue, it's more a matter of not having a solution. I don't think there is one, and if i'm going to infuriate people, I might as well save it for something I have a solution for. And I find abortion heartbreaking.

But once in awhile a stand is called for, and in this case it's gotten dragged into the health care debate.

Only, i outrage both sides. I support a woman's right to choose. Abortion is a tragic and nasty thing, but often precipitated by a tragic and nasty circumstance. It's a decision based on her situation and informed by her individual religious beliefs, and the correctness of those beliefs is something I don't think the legal system has any ability at all to determine with even a shred of justice.

But Planned Parenthood keeps sending me emails about how terrible the Stupak Amendment is, and these emails infuriate me just as much.

From an article that seems to be a clear explanation:

[The Stupak amendment] says no health insurance plan receiving federal subsidies can pay for abortion, except under the three exceptions already allowed by federal law. Women who want insurance coverage for abortion would have to buy a separate policy.

The Senate bill took a different approach. It says health insurance plans operating in a new consumer marketplace can cover abortion, but it may only be paid for with private premiums. Money from federal subsidies would have to be strictly segregated from any funds used to pay for abortion. Consumers would have to write two checks to their insurance plan, one for the regular premium, the other for abortion coverage.

Admittedly, I can't see what in the world made National Right to Life call voting for the Senate version "a career-defining pro-abortion vote." The difference I see is only about how the same restrictions would be administered. Maybe people who speak legalese see something I can't. But the Stupak thing -- my liberal friends will ream me for this -- looks acceptable to me.

ONE, it allows plans that get federal subsidies to cover abortion in cases of rape, incest, threat to the woman's life. Those are the "three exceptions" mentioned. I think it should include a woman's health, not just her life, but the Hyde amendment is what set those parameters, and i doubt if any greater degree of coverage could be implemented unless Hyde were changed. Protection for women who've been violated is in place.

TWO, if she wants coverage for elective abortion, she can buy it privately. (I realize "elective" abortion isn't a good use of the term, but I can't find a word that doesn't seem to label non-life-threatening cases as trivial.)

And why the bleep shouldn't women have to ... here's a wild idea .... make the decision to choose the coverage?

"Choose." "Decide." Recognize 'em? Those pro-choice terms we've been hollering for decades?

It burns me to remember supporting the concept of Empowered Woman, entitled to her own choices -- brought to me by the feminist movement. Only to find that same movement now demoting her to an ignorant being of limited thinking ability whose decisions just won't do and must be managed by The Wise Shepherds. The same feminists who loathe the Biblical excuses for limiting woman's legal powers -- "In pain shall she bear children, yet her desire shall be for her husband and he shall boss her around" [1] -- are now advocating a view of women as eternal victims run by their own reproductive urges.

We can't, they claim, have a system that requires women to plan ahead because nobody plans to find herself unwantedly pregnant.

I disagree. Yes, plenty of people lack basic reproductive smarts. That doesn't seem to me to be adequate reason for treating women as childlike creatures who can't plan or weigh alternatives. Remember, the issue is about women who are shopping the exchange for a health plan. Reading plan charts, talking to sales reps, considering options.

It was choice-opponents who said for years that women just don't make sound decisions.

I do understand that poverty keeps people in a survive-the-day state of mind. And I hate that some women say, "It won't happen to me," or feel too strapped or hopeless to invest a few dollars a month in a plan that will save them a lot more money, trouble, and lost work hours later. None of these arguments are without truth to them.

But it needs to be attacked on a different front, like, duh, education. In my legally-uneducated opinion, however much hardship people bring on themselves by not using power they have, the law must treat the right to choose and the responsibility to choose as inextricably tied. Each is meaningless without the other.

As is often the case with politics, I think advocates of choice are fighting a different battle from the one voiced in their emails about hardship. Planned Parenthood sees all these efforts for what they really are -- an attempt by the Right to Life movement to reduce abortion access.

Neither side likes to put its real agenda into formal statements for public consumption. Choice opponents are doing all kinds of little legal dances to wrap the process of getting a legal abortion in reams of red tape, under the guise of Terribly Supportive Concern like "presenting facts for making an informed decision," and "time to reflect."

I despise all efforts to treat women like idiots. But, legally, there's a line, and red tape doesn't cross it. It isn't good and it certainly doesn't treat women like competent adults, or treat people of faith like people who should have freedom of faith. The difficulties that poor working women have in performing all the hoop-jumping are real and need to be addressed.

All i'm saying is that, legally, Stupak's clause doesn't seem to me to breach the basic right, and doesn't set a legal precedent that could be used to dismantle the right.

Part of posting such a thing is to risk being called a terrible Christian and a worse liberal, but I'd be pretty cowardly to disallow comments. So - any and all respectful disagreements are OK, but invective will be deleted.

[1] Genesis 3:16. I mean, you know... paraphrased.


Sherwood Harrington said...

my liberal friends will ream me for this

No, we won't.


Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Well, OK, some of my liberal friends... 8~)

(and thank you)

Dann Todd said...

Rather than post a long response...I'll just say that your comments go right to the heart of a lot of my criticisms of the current, broader trend in expanding government "services".

Your comments alone made a lot of sense to me.


Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

And thank you too, Dann.

Christy said...

Thanks for this post - I really appreciated it. The left won't get all it wants and the right won't get all it wants - at some point we have to come to a middle ground and this seems like decent piece of middle ground real estate.

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

And another thank you, Christy.