Healthcare Reform Is Only a Partial Victory for Women

Obama’s high point was tempered by congressional ego-tripping on abortion.

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog 

"We pushed back on the undue influence of special interests," Mr. Obama said. "We didn't give in to mistrust or to cynicism or to fear. Instead, we proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things." 

Well, that's the president's characterization of his victory on healthcare reform, according to the New York Times. There are a couple of things I like about this bill. But the final verdict will come a year or more from now when insurance companies raise rates to cover all the newly insured. This, I predict, will not be a happy or historic day for middle-class Americans who are already paying for their own health insurance.

Nonetheless, healthcare reform is here, like it or not, and I do want to savor the victories. They are summed up well in this E-mail from the Women's Media Center: 

We cannot ignore the fact this bill was passed only after a pro choice President appeased a gang of anti-choice legislators by agreeing to sign an Executive Order restating the Hyde Amendment--a longstanding and shameful provision which bars low-income women from accessing reproductive health care.

Bart Stupak caved and ultimately failed. This is a victory for the health care of American women, but only a partial one. The executive order may or may not expand the Hyde Amendment's already devastating impact; only time will tell. What we do know is that the health care bill includes the Nelson amendment which imposes significant restrictions on access to reproductive health care. Until women's perspectives, positions, and priorities are fully incorporated into our nation's policies, ego-tripping representatives out for their fifteen minutes of fame will again and again attempt to use our reproductive rights to highjack legislation. 

The ego-tripping referred to herein is when some atavistic member of the House GOP actually shouted "baby-killer" at an anti-abortion stalwart, Michigan Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak, as Stupak described his compromise on the House floor. 

That truly is a low point in American history---perfectly symmetrical with President Obama's claimed high point.