Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

I'm Tired of My Body Being Used as a Wedge Issue

Exhausted, actually.

It’s used against Democratic politicians by their opponents during elections, and now it’s being used against all of us in the health care debate. What’s worse, it is Democratic Senators and Representatives who are holding health care for ransom, their votes for reform contingent upon greater restrictions on my body and my rights. A few weeks ago, I watched the House vote to limit my reproductive freedom in such ways as were legally possible, and now I am watching the Senate haggle over my options as well. Why is this acceptable in our society? Why do I have to limit my choices and see my autonomy over my own body compromised because of the wishes of a bunch of stuffy old men? Why are my rights subject to their whims?

I recently wrote a diary about Republican oppression of women. But on this issue, there are plenty of Democrats out there who are just as bad. When it comes to abortion, women have no party — our allies are organizations, not political parties. In many regions of the country (like mine), the ballot box is not a tool to be used to guard our rights because no one on the ballot is pro-choice. Yes, as a rule, Democrats do far more to protect our right to control our own bodies than Republicans, but when our options come into conflict with other goals, many on the Left are all too willing to trade away our freedoms. And perhaps what’s troubling me most at the moment is… I think I’m one of them.

(If only I could.)

HCR is being held hostage by a bunch of petulant, oppressive, pro-forced birth men. Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) is following in the footsteps of Stupak and his cronies, trying to place tighter restrictions on abortion.

Republican unity has forced Senate Democrats into the position of not being able to get anything done without hanging on to every single one of their 60 votes. This means that any member of the Democratic caucus can hold health-care legislation hostage by making extortionate demands.

[Senator Ben Nelson] . . . has the Senate in knots over abortion.

Washington Post

He’s got plenty to gripe about (or so he thinks), but abortion is his number one issue at this point. He is using it to stall proceedings as he holds out for further concessions.

And the abortion provisions are just one of numerous concerns that Mr. Nelson has expressed about it. But the biggest obstacle seems to be his demand for tighter restrictions, which are being resisted fiercely by a bloc of senators who support abortion rights.

Mr. Nelson on Thursday issued a statement saying a compromise on abortion language drafted at his behest was “not sufficient.”

Asked by a home-state radio station on Thursday if Democrats could meet their deadline, Mr. Nelson said he did not think so.

“I can’t tell you that they couldn’t come up with something that would be satisfactory on abortion between now and then and solve all the other issues that I have raised to them,” he said. “But I don’t see how.”

Mr. Nelson, a former governor, state insurance commissioner and insurance company executive now serving his second Senate term, is the focus of increasingly intense entreaties by Mr. Reid and the White House. He has met personally with President Obama three times in the last nine days, and daily with Mr. Reid.

New York Times

As in the House, my access to abortion services — my ability to exercise my rights — is being used as a wedge issue to thwart health care reform in the Senate. Thus far, Nelson is not folding.

Whatever the fallout from Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson’s failed attempt to insert new abortion restrictions into the Senate’s healthcare package, it appears increasingly likely that reform will be made hostage to this most divisive of issues.

In the process, it also appears that America’s Catholic bishops, who have supported some form of government health insurance as a fundamental right for nearly a century, are determined to transform themselves into a single-issue constituency. If that occurs, it will constitute a transformation almost as historic as passage of universal healthcare reform.

The Senate’s current plan allows insurance plans participating in government-subsidized exchanges — with or without a “public option” — to cover abortion so long as no federal money is used to pay for the procedure. That’s essentially the compromise that has prevailed in federally supported healthcare schemes since passage of the Hyde amendment in 1976. Nelson doesn’t agree, and, like Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) — who won passage of a similar amendment in the House — he wants to prohibit any public or private plan that participates in a government-sponsored exchange from covering abortion.

Los Angeles Times

Nelson (S.o.B.-NE) has got White House advisers and his fellow Senators bending over backward to try and please him.

Pete Rouse, a senior White House adviser, has been assigned specifically to address Mr. Nelson’s concerns. Senator Bob Casey, a freshman Democrat from Pennsylvania and a prominent opponent of abortion rights, was tapped to devise some sort of compromise language on coverage for abortions to bring Mr. Nelson on board.

But Mr. Casey’s initial efforts have come up short, though he said he would keep trying. “I want to be a fountain of ideas on this topic,” he said.

New York Times

A fountain of… What? Yeah that’s something to be proud of: Being a reservoir of ideas about how to fuck women over. And though the White House has expressed its displeasure, it’s still not putting its foot down:

One of the president’s top advisers criticized Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) on Thursday for threatening to filibuster health care reform despite his record of opposing that parliamentary tactic in the past.

In a conference call with progressive bloggers, White House senior adviser David Axelrod urged Nelson to drop his demand for stricter abortion limits and let the bill come to a vote.

“We are working hard to persuade Senator Nelson that this is in the best interest of Nebraska and his constituents and the country. And we will continue to do that as we will with other members of the Senate,” Axelrod said. “And the main thing I would say to him and others members of the Senate is that after a long, long, long and thorough debate, let us have a vote.

Huffington Post

Apparently Reid has now said that he’s confident that the revised health care plan will pass. If Nelson is relatively pleased, I figure that can’t bode well. But maybe I’m part of the problem. I guess I’m one of those Lefties willing to trade away my access to safe, affordable abortions because I am in an “it’s all for the greater good” mindset these days. So let me join y
ou, Harry — and the rest of you in the Senate… and the House… and the White House… let me join you in bending over for the likes of Nelson and Stupak. And let’s just pray to the almighty (hah!) that bending over does not result in an unwanted pregnancy.

Okay. Time for a detour.

I am sick of this shit. I am sick of “pro-lifers” (most of whom support unnecessary war, the death penalty, or both) trying to fuck with an issue that should be settled. What is the objection? I suppose I don’t get it because I am one of those oh-so-rare individuals who truly believes there is nothing morally wrong with abortion because an undeveloped fetus is not a child. It is a potential child — you know, like sperm. So I don’t “get” anti-choice people. So-called “pro-lifers” are not really pro-life on other issues — they are just anti-abortion. They don’t give a good goddamn what happens to the child once it is born.

What justification do religious lunatics fundie Christians use to bash abortion? A bunch of scripture, much of which is ambiguous? Something about being “knit” by god in mommy’s womb? Okay, fine. But be consistent — don’t be so selective about which parts of the Bible you adhere to. Christians should be bound by both the Old and the New Testament. I want to see them trying to practice all that bullshit from Leviticus as well. Just following the 10 Commandments is pretty lazy. No… not near good enough at all for people so devout they are willing to take away women’s control over their own bodies just to please some all-powerful invisible sexist. I want to see Christians giving up burnt offerings to the lord — offerings of sheep, cattle, goats, and liberals. I’m sure that last one is in there somewhere, but even if not, sometimes you just know what would be god’s will, you know? Pro-life ladies, no more wandering out of your tents during your periods — god thinks you’re dirty when you’re sloughing, so stay in the house and wash any piece of furniture which might be unfortunate enough to have you sit on it. If you do happen to carry out god’s will and birth a child, remember it’s 30 days in your tent for one of god’s sons, and 60 days in your craphole for a sneaky, sinning, snake-loving female offspring. Don’t like the extra month? Shoulda had a boy, shouldn’t ya, you stupid wench.

What I’m asking for is consistency all around from pro-forced birthers. Follow through, and don’t be hypocrites. If you think abortion is murder, then don’t you also think that a 14 year old girl who has an abortion should be tried for murder as an adult? If I believed abortion was murder, that is exactly what I would think. If you believe that the murder of a child is a terrible thing — and that a fetus is a child — then you should have no qualms about saying that a woman who has an abortion is a murderer who deserves prison or worse. So why can’t any “pro-lifers” say that?

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A rarity: Chris Matthews actually playing hardball.

This is what I wrote about abortion in a recent diary:

What Republicans fail to understand (or fail to give a damn about) is that, in prioritizing the “life” of an partially formed fetus, they necessarily infringe upon the rights of an unwilling mother — a fully formed, entirely conscious, independently living human being. I don’t feel it necessary to explore the more technical specifics of why the right to abortion is needed in this country and around the world, as I am assuming that most Moose are well aware of those facts and statistics. I do, however, wish to highlight what opposition to reproductive freedoms says to women.

Whether you personally are opposed to abortion or not, denying women the right to make that determination for themselves implies that women are morally and perhaps even intellectually inferior. Though many American conservatives use the Bible as their justification for opposing abortion, the belief that women are inferior and less capable of making responsible decisions and judgments about their lives and the world around them has much earlier origins. Patriarchal societies have been the norm across thousands of years of history around the world, and the codification of female subordination goes back at least as far as ancient Sumerian culture. From the laws of ancient Mesopotamia to the Bible to the writings of Sigmund Freud, the concept of male superiority has been regarded as truth and fact in both religious and intellectual circles for the vast majority of recorded history. It’s not the fact that Republicans consider abortion immoral that I take issue with — it’s the fact that they consider me incapable of making a moral choice to begin with, a choice about my own body which arguably affects no one else. Republicans consider me morally incompetent and disregard the psychological (not to even mention the physical) harm associated with the inability to make such a personally significant choice. To them, my body is not my own — once impregnated, it is a breeding ground belonging to the state. I am a second class citizen.

Yes, that is what anti-choice people are telling me. That I am a stupid woman who is so morally inept that she can’t make the “right” choice. Nevermind the fact that they’ve already decided what the right choice for me is. To hell with me. Fuck the fact that I am an independently living person with a mind and body of my own. My needs are less important than the purported “needs” of a mass of developing tissue dwelling inside of me.

And what — what the hell is this:

Wut? O rly? Srsly?

What is wrong with people? Are we really this hysterical and silly as a nation? Maybe it’s time I moved after all.

Pro-forced birthers: You are irrational, demeaning, oppressive, hypocritical, and misogynistic.

And you are not fucking excused.



  1. Kysen

    I am forever amused (in a disgusted way) ’bout Republicans (and, sadly, some Dems as well) and their ‘Pro-Life: From Conception to Birth’ beliefs.

    It is late (early, I guess)….and other than agreeing wholeheartedly with you on this topic, I don’t have much to add. I am interested in seeing what Reid presents as the final bill today…interested in seeing if he caved to Nelson and put Stupek type language in it. I am hoping not…but, I am no longer surprised by anything with HCR.

    So, good on ya, sricki…great diary on an always important and timely topic.

    It is a woman’s choice…and always should be…there is no womb for debate.

    Couple pics that made me snicker….



  2. HappyinVT

    An aide to Rep. Bart Stupak (D. Mich.) coordinated opposition to a Senate compromise on the place of abortion in health care legislation this morning with the Republican Senate leadership, the Conference Catholic Bishops, and other anti-abortion groups, according to a chain of frantic emails obtained this morning by POLITICO.

    The emails show that Stupak-who has so far remained silent on language accepted by Senator Ben Nelson (D. Neb.) and faces intense pressure from the White House to accept it-is already working behind the scenes to oppose the compromise.

    They also demonstrate a previously unseen degree of coordination between Stupak and the office of Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

    As John Cole says, “Seriously, Kick him out of the Caucus.”

  3. Let me rephrase that: “This issue is completely intractable until the invention of the Artificial Womb, at which point it will improve to almost completely intractable.”

    I’ve spent most of my energy on this topic voicing strong support for abortion rights (not so much around here, but I don’t really need to around here), but I still completely understand where the folks in opposition are coming from.  At least those who actually oppose abortion, not the opportunistic politicians and others who simply use it as a wedge issue.

    The Pro-choice folks really are specifically “Pro Choice” – they foremost support a woman’s right to choose what to do with their own body, which is completely understandable.

    The Pro-life folks really are specifically “Pro Life” – they identify a fetus as a person and see themselves defending the life of that person, which is completely understandable.

    Again, once the option to put a day-old fetus into an artificial womb becomes one of the choices that a pregnant woman can make this whole issue will become much simpler.  I think that choice will open up other moral dilemmas, but most of them won’t make anyone else blow up buildings on my street or shoot doctors.

    Very well written as always, sricki.  I wish I could see some sort of resolution to the conflict (donating to Artificial Womb development may be the only cause worth supporting).

  4. fogiv

    …a wedge is the last thing I’d think of Sricki.  😉

    You’re so fucking good at these diaries, and on women’s issues in particular, I don’t know where I’d be without you.  Sincerely.

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