The Female Senators’ Last Stand: Fight to Win Health Reform, or a Massacre for Sure

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The Female Senators’ Last Stand: Fight to Win Health Reform, or a Massacre for Sure

Rebecca Sive

The President's version of a health reform bill is based on a flawed Senate bill that contains totally onerous and untenable conditions on American women.  It needs to be fixed, now.

As the New York Times put it on Tuesday, “Mr. Obama and Democratic leaders should fight to win [the battle for healthcare reform].” 

Well, I say the Democratic leaders on the front line of this battle should be the 13 Democratic female U.S. Senators.  

And they should fight to win for the sake of America’s women. 

Why? Because the U.S. Senate healthcare bill these women endorsed, (sadly, the very bill President Obama then used as his blueprint for healthcare reform), contains two totally onerous and untenable terms to American women:

Roe has collapsed and Texas is in chaos.

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1) the proposal that health insurance exchanges, the set-up for providing insurance to those who can’t presently get insurance (40 million and counting), be state-based (effectively rendering American women’s constitutionally-protected equal access to abortion moot), and

2) the requirement that any payment to an insurer for abortion coverage be made separately from any other insurance payment. 

While conventional wisdom says that the Senate bill is less onerous on the issue of abortion than the healthcare reform bill, containing the “Stupak Amendment,” passed by the House of Representatives, I beg to differ. 

Here is why.  

As a result of creating the opportunity for each state’s elected officials to regulate insurers’ access to its health insurance exchange, large national insurers (most of those in the business) will decide that it’s just a whole lot easier to forgo offering abortion coverage than to try to win the opportunity to do business in, say, Mississippi, where state regulators, odds-are, to-a-one, opposed to abortion. (On this point, see here for some of the latest and greatest from the woman-hating politicians of Mississippi.) 

Secondly, and here conventional wisdom is right, what woman plans to have an abortion, and thus buys insurance, (if she can even get it; see above)–with a separate check no less? This Senate healthcare reform plan, just like the House healthcare reform plan, just won’t work, if its purpose is to help America’s women be healthier.

During her discussion last night with Member of Congress, and pro-abortion-rights leader, Jan Schakowsky (see here), (even) Rachel Maddow failed to understand the dangers inherent in the Senate’s bill, thus discussing the problems with the Stupak Amendment with Rep. Schakowsky, but failing to discuss the bill actually on the table right now.

Instead, Maddow concluded by saying that the attempt to change abortion law through health care reform is a “political and practical disaster.”

Had Maddow done more homework, she would have known that, from the very start of this whole legislative process, “abortion law” has been part of the political deal making.

Rachel: You missed the point. Here it is: This battle for healthcare reform–presently being fought over the Senate’s healthcare bill–isn’t about changing abortion law; it is about our right to control our reproductive destiny, the sine qua non for a successful woman’s life.

Rachel: Successful education: nope. Successful employment: nope. Successful career: Nope. Think again.

So, for you, Rachel, and for any other woman who may have missed the point about what is at-stake in this battle right now, here is what our sisters in the U.S. Senate should be saying and doing right now; here is what you should discuss with them; (here is the plan I’ve proposed to them):

  • Stand-up, and say that a healthy America means equal access by all Americans, female as well as male, to the health care they need.


  • Stand-up, and say that there can be no health care reform worthy of the term, if it doesn’t protect women’s reproductive health.


  • Stand-up, and say that it’s a false choice to say that there can’t be healthcare reform and protection of access to abortion and related reproductive health services.


  • Stand-up, and say that you stand united, all of you, in rejecting the idea that when it comes to dealing with America’s health care, it makes sense to give up and start dealing, before you’ve even tried to do the right thing.


  • Stand-up, and say that you know the only reason you’re in Congress in the first place is to advocate unceasingly for the laws and policies women need.

And, remember this, as you contemplate these actions, so at-variance with Beltway business-as-usual:

  • Your male co-workers have already forsaken you. Not a single male legislator has stood-up and said that insuring equitable access to women’s reproductive health care, including abortion, is requisite to health care reform. We don’t exist for them.


  • Your President has forsaken you. The President has said nothing about the fundamental unfairness of Stupak-type legislation, its rewrite of the U.S. Constitution, or its deleterious effect on women’s health. Apparently, we don’t exist for him, either.

Gather yourselves together, and walk over to the White House: Then, say this: It’s time to start over. We’re not buying your Hobson’s Choice, and neither are the women of America. We know who we represent, and we’re here to fight for them. And we won’t leave, not a single one of us, until this fight is over, and we have won.

Talk about the women Senators’ last stand. For who cares whether any of these women get re-elected, if they can’t find a way to fight, and keep fighting, for the most basic rights of their sisters.

Custer’s American massacre was the consequence of stupid battle strategy. This American massacre would be ever so much worse, for it would be the consequence of the failure of our leaders to fight for our most basic American right: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.