What Health Care Reform Can Do For Women

Looking at what health care reform does for women. Also, a right wing group terrorizes Amarillo swingers, and the Catholic church is rocked by a far-reaching pedophilia scandal.

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HCR and women

HCR and young people

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Mark Steyn insults feminists and college education

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll look at what the health care bill does for women’s health outside of the abortion debate. Not surprisingly, there’s a lot of good news. Also, an examination of the reawakening of outrage about pedophilia in the Catholic church, and  a Texas reporter talks about a scary religious right group harassing swingers in Amarillo, TX.

RH Reality Check continues to examine the phony claims made by anti-choicers that black children are being targeted for genocide with abortion.  Loretta Ross spoke on camera about the issue.

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Ross makes some good points about how black women do have a history of being told not to have children. Unfortunately, it’s not helpful having that history exploited in order to deprive women of their right to make the best choices for themselves.


Abortion took up most of the oxygen in the room when it came to discussing health care reform and women’s health care issues.  So much so that you might be forgiven if you thought that the bill that was passed has nothing in it to recommend it to women.  There’s still a very strong possibility that this means an end to abortion coverage for all women in this country.  Probably not right away, but as more and more businesses use the exchange to buy health care for themselves and their employees, we’re going to see a serious shift towards insurance companies just not even bothering to cover it, because keeping track of who gets it and who doesn’t will become too much of a burden.  The only hope is that there’s future legislation liberalizing the bill so that insurance companies who offer abortion coverage can work through the exchange, but until then, it’s just a matter of time before it’s all over. 

That said, there’s an important reason feminists sucked it up and helped support this bill, and that’s because there’s a lot more to women’s health care than abortion coverage.  And our own Jodi Jacobson joined Marcia Greenberger in explaining on the Senate Democrats website how the current system is bad for women in many ways.

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There’s a whole lot of reasons insurance companies target women for higher premiums, but the most mundane ones are that women tend to seek out more health care and at younger ages than men.  The potential to get pregnant is a factor, as is the threat of cervical cancer.  And then women are also punished in general for being more likely to take care of ourselves, more likely to get regular check-ups.  That stuff should save costs, and under a single payer system it does, so it’s encouraged.  But the way insurance companies see it is that if they pay for your doctor’s appointments now, and you switch to another insurance company, they’ve not saved themselves any money with prevention.  They just saved those other guys money. 

This should be capitalism 101 stuff, but a lot of people refuse to get it.  But here it is.  If there’s no financial incentives to get companies to do the right thing, then the government has to step in and regulate the industry. And since the financial incentives in insurance discourage prevention and encourage discrimination, then the government had to step in.  Here’s Senator Barbara Mikulski listing the regulations in the bill to fix these problems.

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This series of videos is really useful in general for figuring out what’s in the bill for you.  They also did one explaining the benefits for young adults. They interview a young man who had to be declared indigent by the hospital to cover the treatment for his cancer at 23, all because his parents couldn’t cover him and he wasn’t yet fully employed. 

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For those of us invested in the reproductive justice angles of this, the news that parents’ insurance can cover young women up to 26 is great news.  We know that the highest rates of abortion are for women in their 20s, and that’s because the highest rates of unintended pregnancies are for women in their 20s.  I’m sure that a lot of this has to do with the fact that women in their 20s often have haphazard insurance coverage, which translates to inconsistent contraception use for many women.  Hopefully this part of the bill will go a long way towards fixing that problem.

One more clip from a video, this one talking about what health care reform will do for small businesses. They interview a man who owns a small, service-oriented business who found that he simply could not pay the exploding premium costs.

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Again, this is the sort of thing that will probably help women especially.  Women dominate the service industry, and many small businesses are little shops and restaurants that employ more women than men.  And those women are often falling through the cracks, but hopefully this bill will make it so they don’t have to. 


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Some things in this world should seem obvious.  One of those things that should be obvious is that when you’re confronted with a man who enjoys raping children, your first instinct should be to get him to stop raping children and your second should be finding a way to punish him for raping children.  But, in case you haven’t been watching the news lately, this is not how the Catholic Church’s administration sees it.  Their priorities seem to be denying it, covering it up, and if more children get raped because of this, they don’t seem to care. In fact, they act like huge victims.

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Of course, the nice thing about accusing your critics of engaging in a media conspiracy is that you can then dismiss everything they say as further evidence of the conspiracy.  Of course, the result is that you come across as people who don’t care how many children are raped as long as no one says anything mean about you.  And if you do this while also pressuring the U.S. government to force women off their insurance coverage for abortion, you come across as people who think adult women having consensual sex is worse than child rape.  And you shouldn’t be surprised if people react by thinking that this might be bad for the long-term health and popularity of your church.

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In the contest between what people know damn well isn’t right, something like child rape, and the cultural pressure to give religious authorities the benefit of the doubt, one would hope people would choose morality over the authorities.  And some definitely are, as it becomes increasingly hard to ignore how the church routinely chose not to punish its rapist priests, and even went so far as to try to silence the victims. 

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What’s been really disheartening for me over the past couple of weeks is seeing how many people are willing to rush forward to defend an institution from charges that it shielded pedophiles from justice.  I’m used to people defending the rape of women by claiming the victims are liars or are crazy, but as a general rule, I tend to think that rape apologists cut the crap in certain circumstances.  And those circumstances are when some stranger leaps out of the bushes and attacks a woman, or in the case of child rape.  And even if they hedge their bets on child rape, most rape apologists tend to draw the line when it’s male victims, of which many were in this case. 

Bill Donohue was faced with a reporter explaining that the man who is now the Pope and other authorities were handed priests who admitted to molesting children, and he blamed the media, the parents, abortion, and gay marriage.  Anyone but the men who actually raped children and the men who shielded them from justice.

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Donohue is a kook, of course, but sadly, this excuse-mongering reaches all levels.  Ross Douthat of the NY Times made excuses for the Pope.  The archbishop here in New York compared the Pope being criticized for this to Jesus being crucified.  Critics of the Catholic Church are being blamed, told that we’re the reason priests rape children, because we’re slutty sluts who give them ideas.  Douthat said in his column, “The permissive sexual culture that prevailed everywhere, seminaries included, during the silly season of the ’70s deserves a share of the blame, as does that era’s overemphasis on therapy.” 

I disagree.  I think anyone trying to blame so-called sexual permissiveness for child rape is basically trying to let the actual rapists and those who covered up for them off the hook.  After all, those people who covered up for them are by and large enemies of sexual permissiveness.  And it makes me sick, especially when you realize someone like Douthat is trying to use child rape to angle for what he wants, which are further restrictions on women’s basic human rights.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, using feminism to scare monger against education edition.  Mark Steyn was substituting for Rush Limbaugh on his show, and his argument against a student lending change that basically only changes who profits from the interest payments managed, in his hands, to become an argument against education itself because of the feminism.

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I wonder how people who work hard to put their kids through school handle the cognitive dissonance of listening to a program that implies that the only reason someone might want federal aid to go to school is they are lazy and stupid. Do only those who can pay for it out of pocket work hard in school?

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte