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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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Food for thought!

December 4, 2009 Leave a comment

I have been so busy, and will remain busy all weekend until Monday, which means I can’t post! So instead, I’m putting up lots of interesting links for you to go to and mull over! Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Can women learn something from the gay rights movement?

Hm. Surprise, surprise. Rush Limbaugh thinks that people in poverty “don’t deserve healthcare”. You make me sick, Rush. Sick.

One story about a family’s difficult decision to have an abortion, while being a part of the Catholic Church. (They went to Dr. Tiller’s, by the way – there are some great things said about him.)

The Women’s Health Amendment was passed!

Operation Rescue (“pro-life” activist group) have a new target in Dr. Leroy Carhart.

Rosie the Riveter High, in Long Beach, CA is making some serious efforts to teach their female students the trades.

Finally, this Sunday, December 6th, marks the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, where the men were told to leave the room, while 14 women were murdered, just because they were women. Read the basic facts here.

AIDS and Gender

December 1, 2009 Leave a comment

With the recent finding that HIV/AIDS is the biggest killer among women in their reproductive age, we know that there are some serious issues that need to be looked at in terms of this disease and gender.

We know that for most women (an estimated 98% of all women affected by HIV/AIDS live in developing countries), treatment, prevention and ultimately, equality, are things that they do not have access too. Let’s talk about gender inequality for a moment, shall we? Gender norms are a part of this inequality and accounts for much of the spreading of this disease. UNAIDS states,

Gender norms, for example, often dictate that women and girls should be ignorant and passive about sex, leaving them unable to negotiate safer sex or access appropriate services. Gender norms in many societies also reinforce a belief that men should seek multiple sexual partners, take risks and be self-reliant.

And let’s not forget, they also mention how in in many cultures, violence against women is condoned. So looking at the gender norms of men, it’s apparent that women automatically become more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. These uber masculine gender norms continue to hurt women in many ways, but especially in this area. And of course, when women and girls are supposed to be “passive” towards men about sex, it doesn’t prevent the spreading of HIV/AIDS. A way to hurdle this is to of course promote gender equality, empower women to know more about their bodies and sex, and teach men that these norms aren’t good for women, or themselves. And of course we can’t forget, if there is going to be consensual sex, use a condom!

The WHO talks about another issue that comes up with gender norms. They call it “gender-related barriers” for services, or treatment.

Women may face barriers due to their lack of access to and control over resources, child-care responsibilities, restricted mobility and limited decision-making power.

Socialization of men may mean that they will not seek HIV services due to a fear of stigma and discrimination, losing their jobs and of being perceived as “weak” or “unmanly”.

How true. For women of course, it appears that they are not in control of the decision to go seek out services or treatments. How horrible, but true. Women once against face the brunt of this disease, because of their lack of options. Men on the other hand probably do have much more access to services or treatment, but because of their societal gender norms, they refuse to get treatment. This hurts men. This hurts men a lot. Any cultural idea of what hegemonic masculinity should look like, usually hurts men and it can be seen here that men also pay the price.

I’m not going to sit back here and think I know the solution to all of this. I don’t think anyone actually does; and even if they do, solutions are a very hard thing to put in place and people will still continue to live with HIV/AIDS and die from it. However, I do say that promoting gender equality is a must (it’s a must anyway, but I digress). Through promoting gender equality, women and girls will have more rights, as well as have an understanding about their bodies and understand that consensual sex is where it’s at. Now, I’m not saying that women and girls always have the choice of consensual sex. A lot of times they don’t. But for them to know that that is what kind of sex should be happening, is a must.

Women and girls do unfortunately bare the greater responsibility and consequences of sex many, many times. After all, we are the ones that get pregnant and we are the ones that are more vulnerable to STIs. It shouldn’t be our complete responsibility, however, it sometimes ends up like that. Women and girls must be educated about safe sex and the possibility of HIV/AIDS. Many women and girls are in the dark about this because they have not had access to this kind of education. Of course, this still will not prevent HIV/AIDS, because some men will insist that no condom be used.

And this brings me right back around to promoting gender equality. When women are able to make decisions and choices about their bodies and sex, we will see a decrease in HIV/AIDS, in both women and men.

If you want to read more about AIDS and gender, visit AVERT.

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.

Mass female genital mutilation events held in Indonesia

January 19, 2008 7 comments

Female circumcisers

I was just going to heap this into “Lots of news”, but when I read it, I knew I actually had to do a piece about it. The New York Times has an article about female “circumcisers” who cut off a piece of a girls genitalia, in Indonesia. It is female genital mutilation, but it just looks more sanitary and humane because it’s sponsored by the Assalaam Foundation.

The procedure takes several minutes. There is little blood involved. Afterward, the girl’s genital area is swabbed with the antiseptic Betadine. She is then helped back into her underwear and returned to a waiting area, where she’s given a small, celebratory gift — some fruit or a donated piece of clothing — and offered a cup of milk for refreshment.

Oh yay! A refreshment! That’s really going to make everything so much better. It’s like they think it’s so much better because the “area” is swabbed with some antiseptic and the girls are given a gift. Yuck. Yuck, yuck, yuck!

But the best part is, is that people actually think there are benefits to this. Benefits to cutting some girly genitalia off.

“One, it will stabilize her libido,” he said through an interpreter. “Two, it will make a woman look more beautiful in the eyes of her husband. And three, it will balance her psychology.”

First, bull shit. Alright, my libido is perfectly fine, and I have all my genitalia. Then again, I guess these people want to take away her libido, so that the man’s sexual pleasure is the main focal point. And you know, that’s totally OK, because women are just baby makers! And yet again, something else that has to do with men. She’ll be more beautiful in the eyes of her husband? Seriously, that is the most messed up thinking one could ever have. I know I’m being potentially offensive here, but FGM is very offensive to me. The second “benefit” just reinforces that men are more important than women and always will be. And the third “benefit,” I don’t really get. Balance her psychology? Yeah, I don’t think so. It may definitely make her have psychological problems, but it’s not going to balance anything.

There are absolutely no health, sexual or psychological benefits for FGM. It is a disgusting practice, and unfortunately the mothers who bring their daughters to this “mass circumcising event” believe that this is the right thing to do and that it will actually improve their daughter in some way, or are just going along with the social expectations of it all.

This article is definitely a must-read and it has several pictures from the event (none are graphic), which do show how horrifying it can be for a young girl.

What pro-life really means

December 6, 2007 1 comment

Pro-Life

Mark Crutcher, at WorldNetDaily, discusses the pro-life stance and what pro-life really means. And, of course, I disagree with some of his statements. But hey, that’s to be expected!

First, he states that to be pro-life is to believe “that a new human life is created at the moment of fertilization and is, thus, entitled to the same legal protections as any other human being.” Question, what about the legal rights of an already grown human being?

Also, according to him, this is a complete black and white situation. You’re either pro-abortion or you’re pro-life, by his definition of course.

Then there is the person who says that they are personally opposed to abortion and would never participate in one, but pro-choice when it comes to legality. As amazing as it may seem, I have actually heard pro-lifers describe people who say this as pro-life.

In reality, this is the most insidious and despicable of all positions on abortion. After all, there is no reason to oppose abortion other than the belief that it takes the life of a living human being. So what the “personally opposed” crowd is saying is: “I agree that abortion is the intentional killing of a baby, but if other people want to do it I support their legal right to do so and it’s not my place to interfere.” That is not a pro-life position. It’s like someone in 1860 saying, “I am personally opposed to slavery and I would never own one, but if someone else wants to own a few that’s their business.”

I don’t like the analogy. A slave is not inside my body, or anyone else’s. It’s a completely different situation and it seems to me to be quite far-fetched when we’re talking about abortion and pro-life.

In conclusion, he states:

So the problem is not that women have abortions, but that children die. And that only occurs because our nation took away their right to life. So maybe we need to talk a little less about stopping abortion and a little more about returning legal protection to the unborn. Perhaps then, all these people claiming to be pro-life would know what being pro-life actually means.

Actually, I have a better idea! How about real sex education and making sure teens or anyone who doesn’t want to have a child, is having safe sex? Protection, people! Condoms! Yay! I agree that we do need to talk a little less about women having abortions, and getting to the root of the problem. The root is not that the unborn don’t have legal protection, but that the youth of today are not educated properly about sex and contraceptives. Not to say that other women who are older don’t have abortions, because they do, but in general, we need to get the youth to understand the basics. And they aren’t getting that. But, guess what? They are going to have sex. So, shouldn’t someone take responsibility for telling them to have safe sex?

Pregnant women are in danger of radiation

November 27, 2007 1 comment

Twice as much as they were a decade ago. This of course leads to health risks.

Although the total amount of radiation exposure to pregnant women is still relatively low, the doubling effect in just a decade is the latest indicator that medical scans are exposing patients to record amounts of ionizing radiation, a type of radiation that can alter cells and lead to health risks, including cancer.

Of course, as the article states, there are times when it’s better for pregnant women to get the scans to help their health, but the general population of pregnant women shouldn’t need these scans.

This is why I’ve always been a fan of the midwife. And if I have any children, I plan on having a midwife. Much less medicine and machines. Hospitals look at pregnant women as having a disability. I read an interesting article awhile ago that talked about how hospitals either looked at pregnant women as a machine or disable. Or both. I think that definitely true. All this talk of scans and radiation irks me a little, and makes me realize even more that the hospital isn’t always the best route. For me, at least. I’m not here to make decisions for anyone else.

But to all pregnant women, ask your doctors about the alternatives to the scans!

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