When I was about 21, I went to a Pro-Choice rally in Westwood with some friends. I don't remember how many thousands of people were there; I do remember that it was, and still is, the largest assembled group of which I have ever been a part - people as far as the eye could see. I was there with friends; women I've been friends with my entire life, both gay and straight men I've known for just as many years, and we were struck by how we were surrounded by families with young children. Here were women and men, moms and dads, fighting for their own and their daughters' future right to choose. That's when I realized that "Pro-Child, Pro-Family, Pro-Choice" was more than just a bumper sticker. It was a statement of belief. My belief.
We live in a time in which Roe v. Wade has been chipped away bit by bit. Through the assassination of abortion providers, through the constant harassment of clinic workers, through the pharmacist "conscience rule" and every other small measure that makes it almost impossible for a woman to choose when to exercise her reproductive freedom, what is still a legal medical procedure is being made more and more unavailable for women - especially poor women.
And now, at a time when we, as Democrats, and as women, should be rejoicing that we are a step closer to healthcare for all Americans, we are instead poised on the edge of what could possibly be the biggest battle of our lifetime in regard to choice. At a time when there could be help for the poor and for those with preexisting conditions, the GOP has managed to upstage the victory with a polarizing issue through Stupak-Pitts . The Republican Party has taken time out from purging itself of the non-believers in order to try to get the Democrats to turn their fire on each other. Yes, the experts at the circular firing squad are now attempting to make us turn our guns on each other. As if the Blue Dogs weren't enough.
As usual, Rachel Maddow sums it up well:
I asked Jen, as she and I watched the vote on CSPAN and tweeted each other (yes, we were both at our respective homes watching CSPAN, on a Saturday night, and having a wonky fine time tweeting about it, by God!), why this happened. Why do we Dems bargain away with ourselves when we truly have no reason to do so? Have we become a party so inclusive, with such a large tent, that there can be no consensus on issues that should be the bread and butter, the platform planks of our party? Jen agreed that we might have done just that.
The Capps Amendment (Go, Lois! Local girl makes good!) actually kept the status quo: no Federal funding for abortions. Yet this amendment wasn't divisive enough for the Blue Dogs and their GOP partners, so along comes Stupak to save the day. The Honorable Representative from Colorado, Diana Degette, hero of the day, in only one hour before the bill had passed, collected 41 signatures to object to the amendment. Men in the House today tried, in true teabagger, "You lie!" fashion, to out-shout the comments of the women of the House in voicing their objections to this unacceptable amendment. Is this what it has come to? Has our Congress now become so misogynistic that women are simply there as tokens, to be seen and not heard? This is the glory that is the present-day GOP. Purge the non-believers and put the women in their place, and let's make sure they know that we don't trust them with their own bodies while we're at it and that women and, according to Dick Armey, don't deserve health insurance anyway. Wow. Wouldn't Lincoln be proud?
So where do we go from here? The Dems in the Senate must now find a way past this behemoth of a mess, partly created by our own inability to twist arms and get the party in line (which, by the way, is why the Rethuglicans always get back into power). What path do we take to get through the Senate, Lieberman aside (don't get me started, people...), to make health care a reality for so many who so desperately need it and to bring costs down for the rest of us? If we could have a unified party, whether by consensus or LBJ arm-twisting, we might actually get something done and stay in the majority in 2010 and accomplish great things for the American people.
What do you think, Politicos? What are the odds of getting a cogent, useful bill to pass the Senate and become law? Will Roe v. Wade survive, or will we be forced to give up the reproductive rights of women to get health care? How can we get around these seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and if you were a Senator, whose ass would you kick first to do so? Keep the faith and tell me what you think - put your two cents in the debate, my friends. God knows our answers are every bit as good as those of the House and Senate right now...maybe even better!
Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013
7 hours ago