Have you noticed?
We talked a little about South Dakota’s now-stalled bill to add someone trying to induce an abortion to the list of “justifiable homicides” last week in the comments on LoGI. The language of the bill was:
“Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person in the lawful defense of such person, or of his or her husband, wife, parent, child, master, mistress, or servant, or the unborn child of any such enumerated person.”
Much hay was made about the master, mistress and servant language, which is apparently very old language from English Common law, or perhaps from slavery times – we can update the law to include “unborn child” but no need to take out the “master, mistress or servant” part apparently.
The bill’s author, naturally, denies that the bill had anything to do with killing doctors. (A lot of doctors are men after all). He claimed that it was for situations like an ex-boyfriend beating a pregnant woman’s stomach to try to cause a miscarriage, offering the motive for him that he didn’t want to pay child support. He stated that under the proposed law the pregnant woman suffering this assault would be justified in killing him to protect her “unborn child.” Maybe Greg Sargent doesn’t see the woman herself as a person who is able to protect herself lawfully from harm under the law – she is only allowed to protect the product of her womb, or maybe he’s lying through his teeth and the proposed change was about killing people trying to get abortions.
Meanwhile, South Dakota is where pharmacists have a right by law to a conscientious objection to selling birth control products – a woman in a small town may find herself unable to buy Plan B birth control within reasonable distance. Because there was an doctor who performed abortions killed in South Dakota, the number has dwindled – depending who you ask and when they last checked, to either 2 or 1, and by some reports that one doctor only performs abortions for the cliched “rape, incest, and life of the mother” cases.
As one person said, South Dakota doesn’t need to make Sharia law illegal; they are creating their own sharia law.
Unfortunately that’s just the beginning. Did you see that the House voted to cut all $317 million dollars for Title X, which pays for birth control, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, breast and cervical cancer testing, prenatal care, sex education and vasectomies for men? $75 million went to the Planned Parenthood, and they didn’t just cut that, but all of it. The backer, Indiana Republican Mike Pence, claimed it was a way to keep the government from funding abortion – even though that has been made illegal every year by an amendment to the budget called the Hyde Amendment (since we currently don’t have a budget, Democratic President Obama signed an executive order preserving the status quo in order to get the health care reform through last year).
Apparently something on the order of 4-5 million Americans get the type of health care services above from Title X funds. Do we care? No. We just don’t want any money going to those icky abortion clinics. We have to cut something to look like we are working on the deficit – I know! Let’s cut from women and children and the elderly! Other spending cuts have been for things like daycare centers, school lunch programs, etc.
It gets worse. An amendment passed every year to keep the government from funding any abortions might possibly not get passed some year, right? So it would be better to have an actual law! But while we are at it, let’s tighten the rules a bit! Republican Chris Smith from New Jersey introduced the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” which would make it illegal permanently for any federal funding to go to abortions except in cases of “forcible rape, forcible incest, or to protect the life of the mother”. Fortunately he raised a shitstorm and the bill – which Speaker Boehner calls a top priority – is going forward with the traditional Hyde Amendment language. Imagine: a 13-year-old girl is molested by a 25-year-old man who is a criminal rapist and can be sent to prison and placed on the sex offender registry for what he has done. But Medicare can’t cover an abortion for her if he didn’t physically force her (because you know, rapists never use anything but physical force) and her parents couldn’t use money from a Health Care Savings account (which would benefit from tax free status and thus in a circuitous way take a bit from “taxpayers”) to pay for an abortion with their own money.
According this article, the same law would also deny “employers a tax exemption for private health policies that include coverage of abortion services.” When you consider that 86% of employer provided health insurance policies cover abortions for therapeutic purposes (for example, a woman with a heart condition who could die if the pregnancy continues), and tax breaks on the amount they spend on the health insurance policies are nearly their entire reason for providing them (along with attracting workers, certainly), that could be a sea change in what policies are provided in the private health insurance market by private employers to private citizens. Let me be clear; the actual bill has not been defeated yet, and the part about the health insurance policies hasn’t made a splash like the forcible rape provision, although it would arguably affect more people.
Along the same lines, many state legislatures and the federal House are working on bills to make those health insurance policy exchanges they keep talking about free of any policies which cover abortions – because some people might buy policies with federal subsidies, and some of those people who buy the policies with subsidies might sometime use the abortion coverage. So it will be illegal for anyone to buy a policy from the exchange – even with their own money – that covers abortion, I suppose because the policies are supposed to be equally available to all in order to keep prices down or some such.
I have heard speculation that women if they want coverage will have to buy it separately, a separate policy for abortions. But I’ve read the majority of women who use abortion services are those who didn’t expect to get pregnant in the first place – who were not on birth control either because they didn’t think they needed it or were being irresponsible, and those for whom birth control didn’t work. Are they likely to be buy coverage for abortion? I am not likely to buy insurance for my cell phone or short term disability insurance, both of which I’ve needed. I can’t imagine I would think to buy abortion insurance.
None of these things have completely passed yet. The bills about the health insurance exchanges and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions bill are the most likely to pass – the former because at least some states will likely pass them, and there are enough anti-abortion Democrats in the Senate to possibly pass it. The second after the egregious rape language was removed is likely to pass the House and Senate just because they will see it as making permanent something that has been around since the 70s, and if no one makes noise, the president might like to throw a bone to the religious right on both of them. The anti-abortion fanatics are waging a war of attrition, so giving them ground only encourages them they will win eventually, and only loses us freedoms.
The Democrats don’t have our backs, but the Republicans are out to get us this year. And unfortunately there are a lot of women in that party egging them on.