While I never thought I'd be declaring someone who doesn't like Bart Stupak anything but a friend, Randy Neugebauer's "baby killer" accusation this Monday on the House floor to Stupak earns him a raging douchebag award, which he gets to share with Senators Stupak and Nelson, and the Tea Party brigade.
On Saturday night the House of Representatives narrowly passed a health-care reform bill, changing the way Americans will access health insurance. Included in the bill was an amendment from Bart Stupak (D-MI), which "prohibits federal funds for abortion services in the public option." Women seeking insurance coverage for abortions must seek a plan outside the enrolled companies. Sixty-Four Democrats voted to include the amendment.
I spent most of this past spring and summer rolling my eyes every time I heard a news story about the swine flu. Almost every day local reporters got hysterical about 5 or 10 or 20 confirmed cases. Entire schools closed in response to a handful of kids with fevers, and as if there were no war in Afghanistan, no economic crisis, and no other epidemics claiming ten times as many lives, newscasters talked about H1N1 (the proper name for swine flu) for hours.
I have a degree in public health and my work focuses on preventing rape and other acts of violence and supporting survivors in healing from abuse. When I see all the attention swine flu is getting, I'm jealous. Other than intermittent news stories about sex offenders on the loose or why women who accuse professional athletes of rape are lying, sexual violence rarely gets any widespread coverage. Certainly no state of emergency declared by the President of the United States.
What would our media, our public discourse, and our institutional responses look like if people cared as much about rape as they do about H1N1?
The healthcare debate this week has certainly been a lot of fingerpointing. In an effort to quash false rumors surrounding Obama's new healthcare plan (please let's never discuss the phrase "death panels" again), the White House went so far as to launch a "reality check" website. But one issue that's missing from the White House site is abortion. Despite the lack of an official White House debunk, the public dialogue on abortion has been just as packed with misinformation and exaggeration as the rest of the national conversation about healthcare reform.
That idea is aided by misleading statements from mainstream politicians. Representative John Boehner (R-Ohio) penned a piece in the National Review spelling out his take on Obama's healthcare plan:
"Fact: The bill as currently written will allow the federal government to classify abortion as an "essential benefit" — a health-care right that would be guaranteed to all Americans. This will make it illegal for health-care providers nationwide — even Catholic and religious-based hospitals with missions that reflect a fundamental moral objection to the killing of the unborn — to provide anything less than abortion on demand for anyone who seeks it."
But when the Denver Post ran a health care fact check, they showed that Boehner's "fact" is actually false. The Post explains that Obama's current health care plan does not override the federal law that bans Medicaid from paying for abortions except in cases involving rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger. An amendment pushed by Lois Capps (D-CA) allows public and private healthcare plans to cover abortions in other cases, but they can't use federal dollars.
"Forty-three per cent of American women suffer from female sexual dysfunction. Or do they?" Is "female sexual dysfunction" a real disease? Or is it just a marketing ploy invented by Big Pharma in hopes of profiting from "female Viagra"? These are the questions documentary filmmaker Liz Canner set out to answer in Orgasm, Inc.