Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the Healthcare Reform bill only after Democrats caved on abortion, allowing the Stupak Amendment to be added in order to move the bill along. The Stupak Amendment prohibits any public option to offer abortion coverage, and also prevents private insurers from covering abortion by limiting federal affordability credits to plans that do not cover abortion. For those of us who desire a truly comprehensive healthcare reform act that values women's healthcare needs, this "victory" was hard to swallow.
Today is the first Tuesday in November, which means that for those of us freezing our toes off up north, it's finally time to turn on the heat! It also means it is Election Day, and since we're not electing a President this year, we have the luxury to relax and reflect on the trailblazing Jewish women in politics who have made history on this historic day.
Yesterday, Oct. 28, 2009, heralded a historic moment for human rights as President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act into law. This act expands the already existing hate crime protection to include crimes based on one's sexual orientation, gender, disability, or gender identity, and also allows federal authorities to support local investigations, as well as step in when local authorities unable or unwilling to investigate. For the first time in our nation's history, GLBT people and people with disabilities have the legal right to safety from hate violence.
I recently began a fun Twitter project, tweeting tidbits from American Jewess, the first English-language publication directed to American Jewish women (and this blog's namesake), edited by the original Jewess, Rosa Sonneschein. Today I came across this ad from the October 1895 issue, and almost fell out of my chair.
We are in big trouble. When I started reading about the healthcare reform battle, I was angry. Now that the Senate panel has rejected the public option, and Obama has declined to stand up for reproductive rights, I am getting scared. The more I read, the more I started to realize that there is a larger problem underlying this debate. There is something fundamentally wrong with the way people think about women's bodies and the healthcare they require. While reproductive healthcare is absolutely critical to the general health of every woman, every family and every community, it is considered separately, almost as if it were elective, in the greater discussion of healthcare reform.
Last Friday, Michelle Obama spoke to leaders of several women's groups arguing that "overhauling the nation’s health care system was of critical importance to women and part of 'the next step' in their long quest to assure full opportunity and equality." With healthcare reform at the forefront, it is becoming more and more obvious that the status quo is sexist, unfair, and often dangerous for women. For the first time in a long time, I am getting angry.
On Monday, President Obama announced his nomination for Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and I couldn't be happier about his pick: Chai Feldblum, Professor of Law at Georgetown, who also happens to be an out Jewish lesbian.
Today I discovered the National Council for Jewish Women of Columbus, Ohio's "Love Shouldn't Hurt" community service project, which educates high school students about dating abuse and healthy relationships. The NCJW's Love Shouldn't Hurt committee, chaired by Nancy Eisenman, has reached over 1,800 students with their teen dating abuse lecture. The NCJW of Columbus, Ohio is working to pass a bill to require all schools to include educational programs about dating and relationship abuse in the high school curriculum. I applaud this initiative, and wish there were a similar bill on the floor of every state legislature.