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Misogyny hijacks health care reform vote

By Amanda Marcotte
Sunday, November 8, 2009 15:27 EDT
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Sorry for being out all day yesterday; my mother is in town, and so it was hard to obsessively follow the health care reform vote. I did try to tweet some stuff from RH Reality Check about the Stupak amendment, and frankly, prior to the amendment, that’s the best angle. They said what needs to be said—that the amendment will strip many millions of Americans of their current abortion coverage, and that this is a bullshit move. But even with all the prior knowledge I had of the situation, I was surprised that Stupak was able to get 65 Democratic votes against a woman’s right to basic health care. The anti-woman coalition in the House is only about 40 Democrats, so I imagine the rest were genuinely afraid that Stupak would be able to defeat health care reform on the issue of whether or not women should be forced to give birth against their will.

I have a lot of disparate thoughts, so I’ll try to address them one at a time.

Atrios sez, “I do not know why some people think women shouldn’t have access to appropriate medical care. Something is wrong with them.”

In the case of Bart Stupak, I had my answer the first time I watched an interview with him. He’s one of those puffy assholes who really can’t stand the idea that women might have final say over their own bodies. In other words, he’s a True Believer. But people like that are also firmly convinced that most of the country thinks like them, and they can be very convincing to scaredy cat politicians who are wrongly afraid they are out of step with their constituents. And even though most people, when pressed, don’t have the nerve to force women to have babies against their will, anti-choicers aren’t entirely wrong about their ability to use female sexuality to stir up anger and fear. The problem is that when you get people to think about this logically, they’re pro-choice. But when you appeal to them emotionally, they’re all too easily sucked into hating on sluts, believing female sexuality is dangerous, and wanting it to be controlled. When asked specifics about how it should be controlled, people balk—they want it to be controlled, but they don’t want there to be actual force involved, in part because most Americans have female sexuality as part of their own sex lives, and they don’t want their own bedrooms invaded. The key to creating a sex panic is making the panickers believe this is about Other Women. And unfortunately, 65 Democrats are convinced that this amendment is about punishing Other Women, not their own voters.

There’s two lessons here. One is that there is no such thing as “common ground”. Obama and other conciliatory pro-choice Democrats keep insisting on believing that anti-choicers are in this for the fetuses, and therefore will be wooed by common ground attempts to reduce the abortion rate through contraception use. But while a few moderate anti-choicers will play along like they were eating their vegetables, their hearts aren’t in this. Fetuses aren’t what excite people; sowing fear and loathing about female sexuality does. This amendment will do nothing to reduce the abortion rate, but it will increase the suffering of women seeking abortion. The real goal is and always will be punishing sexual women, at least scapegoating the ones who have the misfortune to have unintended pregnancies.

The other lesson is that anti-choicers will always push for more. There is no such thing as satisfying them, because no matter what they do, women continue fucking. Or, Other Women continue fucking—anti-choicers make an exception for their own selves or sex partners, whose sexuality is acceptable, and whose abortions are necessary. We knew when the anti-choice nuts got involved, that they would probably be able to get a ban on the public option covering abortion. But since that was almost certain, they pushed for more—depriving not just the poor of their abortion coverage, but all women in the U.S.

With this lesson in mind, pro-choice Democrats need to understand this: Contraception coverage is next. Make no mistake. Now they have a precedent of banning insurance companies from covering abortion, but this will not, of course, stop women from fucking. So contraception is next. And if you doubt me, remember what happened when the Democrats tried to include contraception access expansion in the stimulus bill. There was a full-blown sex panic, the fear that those Other Women would be fucking. They will try to harness that energy, and this precedent, all to force your insurance company to stop covering your pill, your IUD, and possibly any gynecological care associated with them. That Pap smear that you get before your prescription is refilled? Under anti-choice reasoning, prepare to hear that described as “abortion”.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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