I’ve strayed away from political topics recently, mainly because they’re rather depressing to write about these days, and lately I find myself wondering whether all the posts on various issues and outrages make much of a difference. But there are a couple of things I’ve read recently that have kind of stayed on my mind, and the more I think about them the harder it is not to write about them, even though the context and consequences when it comes to womens’ lives shouldn’t need clarification.
The bottom line is that the “traditional values” crowd couldn’t give two “compassionate conservative” shits when it comes to women’s lives. At least, not women who have been living “ex-utero” for an extended period of time.
It was Kevin over at Lean Left who called my attention to a story of how one woman was denied medical care on the basis of “values.”
I’m insured, partnered, and have access to “good health care.” All that privilege did not protect me from a local obstetrician who neglected to inform me of potential health hazards or treat me after I miscarried. His advice, “You’re fine. To avoid further problems, you need to practice abstinence and get married.”
Several weeks later, after a visit to my regular physician, I had to undergo an emergency D&amp;amp;C. The local obstetrician didn’t “offer” that particular service, even if my life depended on it. Because of mandatory state regulations, I had to endure a waiting period and was forced to listen to a tape about alternatives to abortion. Finally, my regular doctor had to convince my insurance company that I was not having “elective surgery.”
There are so many things that I hate about this episode in my life. The local obstetrician I trusted with my first attempt to have a child couldn’t find room in his big, Christian heart for me after he figured out that I’d miscarried and I wasn’t married. He didn’t bother to tell me I might need further medical attention. I hate that I had to wait to receive a procedure necessary to preserve my health, as if I had a choice whether or not to continue a pregnancy that had sadly already ended. I hate that the insurance company needed to be convinced that my life was worth the years of premiums paid to them. [emphasis added]
And then there’s the South Dakota abortion ban that makes no exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of pregnant women.
“The momentum for a change in the national policy on abortion is going to come in the not-too-distant future,” said Rep. Roger W. Hunt, a Republican who sponsored the bill. To his delight, abortion opponents succeeded in defeating all amendments designed to mitigate the ban, including exceptions in the case of rape or incest or the health of the woman. Hunt said that such “special circumstances” would have diluted the bill and its impact on the national scene.
Kate Looby, director of Planned Parenthood of South Dakota, which plans to immediately challenge the ban, said that while she was not surprised, she was still a “little shocked” by the vote. “Clearly, this is a devastating day for the women of South Dakota,” she said. “We fully expected this, yet it’s still distressing to know that this legislative body cares so little about women, about families, about women who are victims of rape or incest.” [emphasis added]
When I first heard about the South Dakota law, before reading much about it, my guess was that it was merely a prelude and that the intention of it’s supporters is precisely that the law will be challenged and wind its way to the Supreme Court. It’s also safe to assume that they’re hoping Bush gets to appoint one or two more justices to the court before he ambles off into the sunset, leaving the nation to contend with the mess he’ll leave behind and women stuck with the state making the final decision in an agonizing equation: your fetus or your life. And if the current trend continues, it’s clear when end of the bargain women will get.
It reminds me of something I wrote about earlier that bears repeating when it comes to court appointees and reproductive choice. It’s pretty simple. When you hear Bush court nominees paying lip service to Roe v. Wade as “settled law” don’t believe them. Ever. Don’t believe them because it’s clear that part of their strategy is to bring a Roe challenge case all the way to the Supreme Court.
That alone should also be enough to underscore the other “no-brainer” takeaway from the South Dakota bill.
“When you see them have a ban that does not include exceptions for rape or incest or the health of the mother, you understand that elections do matter,” said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “We will be very active in ’06 and in ’08 in electing candidates that represent the views of most Americans.”
That should be remembered by progressive voters even if it’s lost on some Democratic leadership. Opposing candidates that would turn back the clock on women’s reproductive choice, and thus put womens’ health in peril, should mean opposing anti-choice Democrats too, if the party leadership is still willing to back them.
I’d say the same for anti-gay Democrats as well, because if they’re going to push the same agenda as the Republicans on issues like reproductive choice or gay & lesbian equality — if they come down on the same side of the “your fetus or your life” equation — then they’re no different in my book, and it may just be time to draw a line of distinction between the terms “progressive” and “Democrat” and make them clarify just which side — and whose side — they’re on.