Monday, December 7, 2009

The Stupak Amendment

I’m working on a paper for my public health class right now. We’re supposed to analyze the health care reform bill passed by the house from the position of a randomly assigned stakeholder. But because the controversy over abortion rights is far-reaching and divided, our professor doesn’t want us to spend the whole paper arguing about that. Or any of the paper, for that matter. So I’ll write about it here instead.

I think the fact that the ball of health care reform has started rolling is great. We’ll get something, even if it isn’t perfect, and that can be tweaked later. America is the only developed country that doesn’t have some kind of national plan for universal coverage. The last country to share that distinction was South Africa. Good to know we’re behind the country in which a girl has a better chance of being raped than of learning how to read. Anyways, the Stupak Amendment to the House bill says that any plan paid for or subsidized by federal money cannot cover abortion unless it’s proven to be rape or incest.

That’s great for anti-choice lobbyists, but exactly how would you prove it was rape? From police reports? I’ve read from various sources that anywhere from an estimated 60-80% of rape victims don’t report the crime. Why? Because it’s often someone they know, because they’re not comfortable going to the police, because even if it wasn’t their fault, they will become ostracized. There are plenty of reasons.

What about these women, who make up the majority of rape cases even in the most conservative estimate? Will they not be able to salvage their lives and move ahead if their income is low and they are forced to use the federal subsidies? They already have enough to deal with. This amendment does nothing more than create hardship for these women. I can’t even begin to comprehend how difficult their situation would be, and it’s related to my minor! How can those mainly white male Representatives, sitting comfortably on Capitol Hill, understand the plight of these women?

Even if women are allowed to purchase a supplemental policy (assuming their income is over 400% of the Federal Poverty Level and they are not being helped by the federal subsidy), it's useless. Abortions are used when the pregnancy is unwanted or unexpected. Why would you buy a plan against that when you could just use contraceptives? Women don't expect to have abortions, it happens when the pregnancy is accidental! We need more female representation in Congress to point out the issues that are obvious to women, but invisible to men.

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