Last night the House of Representatives passed comprehensive health care reform, and this morning the liberal interwebz are all a-twitter with happy, giddy, messages. We finally passed something! Yay for Obama! Yay for progressives! I get that response, and I really, really, REALLY wish it were my own. Because I am so glad that this legislation gives coverage to so many more people, and puts in place truly important reforms on the insurance industry, and safeguards the health of millions of children. I really am glad about that.
But I just can’t quite get to my happy place, because this important, historic legislation was made possible only by throwing reproductive choice under the proverbial bus. While the Stupak amendment didn’t make it into the bill, the Nelson compromise did, and that is bad, bad news for anyone who cares about reproductive rights. So while I would love to be doing happy dances of joy about passing health care reform, I find that what I really am is angry. I’m angry that Democratic legislators and presidents are so willing to cave on this issue, that it so easily becomes a bargaining chip. I’m angry at being made to feel a spoilsport for not being able to “look past” the choice issue to see the bigger picture. I’m angry that the choice issue isn’t a part of the bigger picture. I’m pissed that reproductive rights were compromised for something that falls far short of universal coverage. I’m really goddamn angry that Senators Nelson and Stupak think it’s any of their fucking business what I decide to do with my body. I’m unbelievably angry that this new legislation enshrines wealthy privilege by making it nearly impossible for any but the moneyed classes to get abortion coverage. But most of all, I’m angry that I don’t get to be joyful about this moment in history. I have great capacity for joy, y’all. I do. And I’m not trying to be sanctimonious about this – I know that many of you reading this share my discomfort with the restrictions on reproductive health, and are managing to be happy about this legislation anyway. And maybe as the days go by, I’ll get there, too. But this morning I’m just angry … and wishing I could look forward to a time when women’s bodies weren’t casualties in the battle for “greater” progressive gains.