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An abortion compromise made for health care reform

December 21, 2009 Leave a comment

I have neglected to post anything about the abortion debates/Stupak-Pitts/health care reform before this, because I just felt that others could explain things much better than myself, as I’m Canadian and don’t completely understand all the ins and outs of the American political system. However, I can’t neglect this anymore. As most of you may know by now, there is now an abortion compromise being proposed for the hopeful passing of the health care reform, just for that one damn vote from Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb.. Pretty much, most women are still getting screwed out of abortion coverage. Shit. Here’s how it goes:

No health plan would be required to offer coverage for the procedure. In plans that do cover abortion, beneficiaries would have to pay for it separately, and those funds would have to be kept in a separate account from taxpayer money.

Moreover, individual states would be able to prohibit abortion coverage in plans offered through the exchange, after but passing specific legislation to that effect. The only exceptions would be those allowed under current federal law.

So, what I’m hearing from this is that women are still getting screwed. Women should not have to pay a separate check for abortion coverage. That’s the most ridiculous thing ever. Seriously. Abortions should be considered a medically necessary procedure for those who need or want them (similar to how they are labeled in Canada), and there should be equal access across the board, for all women. The access thing is absolutely more difficult, but the first step is to allow abortions into the health care reform without any separation. This seriously just boils my blood. It’s ridiculous.

So how are other people responding to this? NARAL gives their take and states,

“At every turn, our standard has been consistent and clear: Women should not lose ground in the new health-care system…the language regarding abortion coverage comes at too high a price for reproductive health. Thus, we must oppose this new Nelson language.”

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., says that she’s “disappointed that women’s access to full reproductive health care is again paying the price.

Planned Parenthood gives their thoughts:

There is no sound policy reason to require women to pay separately for their abortion coverage other than to try to shame them and draw attention to the abortion coverage. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that insurance companies will be willing to follow such an administratively cumbersome system, leaving tens of millions of women without abortion coverage.

No doubt, there will be more news about this and more to say about it in the coming days and weeks. Right now, I have to say that this is not good enough, and some fighting still needs to be done, especially since people who support Stupak-Pitts aren’t going to go down without a fight.

Update: After I wrote this post, we now have found out that the Senate has voted yes (60-40) on the first health care reform vote.


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Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

December 9, 2009 Leave a comment

I cannot even express in words how much shock and anger came upon me when I heard about this extremely disgusting, homophobic bill proposal. RH Reality Check explains,

The bill proposes a seven-year jail term for anyone who “attempts to commit the offence” or who “aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality.” Under the proposed law, “promotion of homosexuality,” including publishing information or providing funds, premises for activities, or other resources, is also punishable by a seven-year sentence or a fine of US$50,000. The bill seeks to apply the death penalty handed down for the crime of “aggravated homosexuality,” defined as a sexual assault committed against a member of the same sex who is under 18 or disabled. An HIV test would be forced upon anyone found guilt of the offense of “homosexuality.”

No one in their right mind would think this would pass, correct? Well, many gay rights activists in Uganda are saying that this is something that most likely will pass. David Cato, a gay rights activist in Uganda, says that there has been more of a gay rights movement in Uganda lately, which means that these laws are being put into place.

“It’s a question of visibility,” said David Cato, who became an activist after he was beaten up four times, arrested twice, fired from his teaching job and outed in the press because he is gay. “When we come out and ask for our rights, they pass laws against us.”

I for one sincerely hope that this bill does not get passed. There is a lot of international pressure on Uganda right now because of this bill, but only time will tell if this pressure will influence Uganda in any way.

Oh, New York…why not legalize same-sex marriage?

December 2, 2009 Leave a comment

This came to be rather shocking for me. I guess I always figured that New York would be one of those states that would legalize same-sex marriage. I was, however, wrong.

Today, the Senate voted down a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, with the vote of 38-24. Eek. We can’t forget that there are 30 Republicans and 32 Democrats in the New York State Senate, so that could have something to with it as well. But clearly, some of those Dems voted against this bill to be passed.

The Catholic Church is of course rejoicing, and I am continuing to find more reasons to dislike this institution so much. However, it is so refreshing to hear what Senator Eric Adams, a Brooklyn Democrat, who considers himself to be a man of faith, said: “When I walk through these doors, my Bible stays out,”. That is music to my ears. Absolute music to my ears. He gets it. So many religious people think that they need to bring their personal religious beliefs into government and law, but in fact, it’s the other way around. As a pastor’s kid and person who is still practicing my faith, this is something that I have discovered slowly, but surely. Now, if only more people of faith (or here, I could probably use the more staunch “religious” term) could see this, understand this and demonstrate it in their own lives.

Obama planning on lifting the HIV travel ban

October 30, 2009 Leave a comment

So, for 22 years, for those that are HIV positive, have not been able to enter into the United States, either as visitors or as immigrants. I just found out that this was even a law just about two month ago, because one of my fabulous Anti-Oppressive Practice professors mainly does her work in HIV and told us about how some of her team couldn’t go to the States for conferences, or, they had to make sure to not mention that they were HIV positive. Kind of a ridiculous law right? Well, the good news is, is that Obama is lifting this ban!

President Obama called the 22-year ban on travel and immigration by HIV-positive individuals a decision “rooted in fear rather than fact” and announced the end of the rule-making process lifting the ban.

The president signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 at the White House Friday and also spoke of the new rules, which have been under development more more than a year. “We are finishing the job,” the president said.

There will be a 60-day waiting period for this to be put in implementation. Very exciting stuff, because as Obama said, this law was put in place due to fear and not fact.

Click here for the story from the Washington Post.

Positive movement in Afghanistan

July 15, 2009 Leave a comment

News is coming from Washington that a bill may be passed in Afghanistan to punish those who perpetrate violence against women.

“We’ve learned in the last 24 hours or so that a bill that’s been pending in the parliament in Afghanistan and been reviewed by the ministry of justice to eliminate violence against women is going to be signed by President Karzai,” US lawmaker Carolyn Maloney said at the briefing on Capitol Hill.

If this bill is passed, “men who bar women from getting an education, working, or obtaining healthcare could face six months in prison.

Let’s hope this bill gets pass, but even more so, let’s hope that there is actual justice for so many women that experience violence in Afghanistan.

Stats to know about abortion in the United States!

January 17, 2008 Leave a comment

So, our culture is permeated with the thoughts about teenage girls getting pregnant and being the only people that get abortions. Wrong! Some new stats (although some of you might have already known this) show…

Half of the roughly 1.2 million U.S. women who have abortions each year are 25 or older. Only about 17 per cent are teens. About 60 per cent have given birth to least one child prior to getting an abortion.

That’s pretty significant. Women who are having abortions are doing it in a reasonable manner and they’ve thought about it. Are we really going to condemn a woman over 25 for making her own decisions about her body? Is she too immature to make this decision? That’s a big, fat NO. But our society doesn’t think about these women. They only think about the misinformed (about sex ed, that is) teenagers who are getting pregnant and contemplating abortion. Which is something that I also think is very, very reasonable. I personally know of a 13 year old who has a child right now. She got pregnant when she was 12, by a 19 year old…and she’s now a single mother forever. Should she really have had that child? No. But it’d done now. Anyway, that was a total tangent…

Some other interesting stats say a lot about the socio-economic structure of our society as well. These prove to
me that abortion is not the problem, other underlying factors are. (Even though I already knew that)

But year after year the statistics reveal that black women and economically struggling women — who have above-average rates of unintended pregnancies — are far more likely than others to have abortions. About 13 per cent of American women are black, yet new figures from the Centers for Disease Control show they account for 35 per cent of the abortions.

Instead of the United States government trying to ban abortion, they should be dealing with the economy, poverty and other social inequalities in society. Saying abortion is the worst thing under the sun is just a band-aid for a bullet wound.

Uh, I freaking love these women!

January 7, 2008 1 comment

A group of women in India have started their own political party. Rock on. That’s so sweet! Suman Krishan Kant is the president of this 100 member (almost) all-women political party, who is also the widow of the former vice president, Krishan Kumar Kant.

“It is for the first time in the history of India that a national political party has been formed by women,” she says. “In fact it is the only party of women in the world. We need to ensure that the issues of priority concern to half of its population remain in the forefront of the pressing issues on India’s national agenda.”

Presently, women only hold 8 percent of seats in parliament, and the party wants that to change to 50 percent, which would be an amazing thing to see, but it’s also an amazing task to take on at the same time. It is true that some women do hold top seats in parliament, but that is few and far between, as gender inequality is still rampant in India, even though women have legal equality.

In November, the World Economic Forum’s latest gender gap index put India among the world’s 10 most gender-biased economies, with women’s participation in the paid work force at 36 percent.

Wow. These women are completely extraordinary and inspirational. And they make the point of “not hating men, and wanting and needing their support,” which is really great, because it’s about equality, and working together to create a better world; not squashing the other gender. It is just so encouraging to see something like this happen in India, and like Kant said, it really is the only (almost) all-women’s political party. Just, so cool. I love these women.