Barbara Boxer is one kick-ass Senator. Yesterday, the Senate debated the new threat to women's health: the Nelson-Hatch Amendment, which is essentially Stupak round 2. Senator Boxer did not hold back, and said exactly what I, and other women, have been thinking.
Ever since Bart Stupak finagled his anti-choice amendment onto the House’s Health Care Reform bill three weeks ago, my life seems to be all Stupak, all the time. I have attended rallies, visited Capitol Hill to talk to my Senators, helped plan a Lobby Day on December 2 with a broad group of progressive organizations known as the Stop Stupak coalition, supported students as they plan their own on-campus actions, and organized online to get the word out as much as possible.
The Center for Reproductive Rights is taking an exciting approach to fighting the Stupak Amendment and the potential loss of abortion coverage it would ultimately bring about. Cory Kahaney (one of the hosts of Making Trouble) stars in their new ad, "It's No Joke," which will air on MSNBC this week. Kahaney drives home her point with a quick standup routine about health care that makes it perfectly clear that the threat to abortion access is no joke.
A few days ago, I wrote about how the House of Representatives threw women under the bus in order to pass the healthcare reform bill. All week the blogosphere has been buzzing with anger and disbelief at the fact that our elected leaders would pass such an unprecidented repeal of abortion coverage, which both prohibits the public option from offering coverage, and provides financial incentives for private insurance companies to drop the coverage they currently offer.
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.
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.
A few years ago, I read Devil in the White City, Erik Larson's non-fiction account of the history of the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, complete with architecture, politics, and a murder mystery. Good stuff. But I didn't realize that the Chicago World's Fair was also the site, 115 years ago this week, of the first Jewish Women's Congress, which was part of the Fair's World Parliament of Religions.
Thirty-eight years ago today, thousands of women nation-wide responded to Jewish feminist Betty Friedan's call for a Women's Strike for Equality. In addition to a huge march down New York's 5th Avenue, women around the country demonstrated in support of three main goals: free abortion on demand, free 24-hour community-controlled child care centers, and equal opportunity in jobs and education.
Jewesses With Attitude recently reconnected with Rivka Solomon, the founder and visionary of That Takes Ovaries (TTO) and recipient of the Jewish Women's Archive's Women Who Daredaward. TTO takes many forms -- it's a book, an open mike movement, a play, and an organizing tool for women's and girls' empowerment. Most TTO events benefit women's and girls' causes -- women's shelters, Planned Parenthood, groups working to end human rights abuses around the globe, Amnesty International, and more.