Monday, December 21, 2009
Women's Rights in America
Two items of interest to me today as host and producer of a women's issues program.
One, the Senate health care reform proposal. Its language calls for women to make a separate payment, write a separate check for full reproductive services health coverage to the private insurer which would be offering insurance under the program.
The idea is to make certain that no public funds are used to finance abortions.
This ignores the Hyde Amendment,passed in 1976, which guarantees that very thing. It's not beloved of pro-choice lobbyists, but it exists. So this extra contortion reaffirms a prohibition that is already law. And what it effectively accomplishes is discrimination. A man will pay for his insurance, period. A woman will pay on a two-tiered scale, depending on her age and what services she might need.
I am not arguing for abortion. I've struggled with this one for years and I believe that except under very exceptional circumstances, that choice should not be abortion. I hate that there are people who treat abortion like a form of contraception. But I'm a woman; I know the difficult situations we all can face. Any choice made must be one that forces a real searching of the soul. But bottom line, I believe in allowing that choice. I do not believe the law should require you to have a child.
So we're creating a mandatory system that will force women to pay extra if they want to preserve that right to choose.
Not to mention the fact that insurance companies will also be permitted to charge far more for covering older people (like me)...one figure I've seen predicts it will be 300% more.
I'm disappointed in our president. I think he has been disingenuous. He's promoted a single payer public option while promising the insurance industry that he doesn't really mean it.
If I were a legislator, I think I'd have to vote down this cutout version of reform. But if I were a legislator, I'd be hounding Joe Lieberman out of any position of clout he even dreams of holding. I'd be holding 24 hour full volume heavy metal vigils on his doorstep.
So just as well I'm not.
Then there's CEDAW. Do you know what it is?
It's the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women.
It was part of Eleanor Roosevelt's vision when she helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It is an international treaty which has been ratified by 185 countries, countries willing to affirm that they stand against "any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field."
Sudan hasn't signed it. Neither has Somalia. Nor has the United States.
Presidents Clinton and Carter signed it, but never managed to get it out of committee and into a vote by the Senate.
So I live in a country where my government cannot agree that all women deserve the same human rights and fundamental freedoms as men.
CEDAW turned thirty years old this month. And we are still waiting for it to come up for a vote in Washington.
It's a significant treaty, if only on moral grounds.
Isn't that high ground the one we like to claim as ours?
You can find out more here.