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Column by Allie Huddleston. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
If a complete stranger approached you in the street and told you that he or she would like to make your medical decisions, how would you feel?
If you are like me, you may feel rather uncomfortable and a little offended. What does a stranger know about my health needs?
What if this stranger was a member of the 112th United States Congress, and was part of a large group of representatives pushing bills that would not only take away funding for cervical cancer, STD screenings, and birth control, but also let pregnant women die from refusal of care?
Unfortunately, a bunch of strangers has decided that measures such as these are completely in the public interest, and these strangers happen to be our very own lawmakers.
Meet H.R.3 (No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act), H.R.217 (Title X AbortionProvider Prohibition Act) and H.R.358 (Protect Life Act), the latest attempt to limit ourreproductive choices by practically making those choices for us!
The track records of these bills are not pretty. Proponents of H.R.3 attempted to deny abortions required in the case of rape or incest by “redefining rape” so that it excluded the majority of rape survivors.
Despite the fact that this measure was ultimately scrapped from H.R.3, what does this say about the ideas these lawmakers have about women in the first place?
Clearly they do not respect women, even survivors of traumatic sexual experiences, and do not understand reproductive health in the least.
Their ignorance of the subject is made clear by proposing more absurd ideas through H.R.217 and H.R.358. H.R.217 proposes cutting all funding for organizations under Title X, such as Planned Parenthood, because they provide abortion services.
For the record, all federal funding for Planned Parenthood is used to offer services such as STD testing, birth control, health counseling and pap smears, and a very small part of their organization provides alternatively-funded abortions.
By denying all funding to Planned Parenthood, they are really denying funding basic medical services to people who need them, namely millions of women nationwide who cannot afford expensive insurance plans to cover the cost of birth control and annual cervical cancer exams.
I see no respect in denying individuals the right to reasonably priced, medically necessary health services that mainly affect women. I also see no respect in letting women die under the guise of “protecting life.”
Under H.R.358, health care providers such as doctors, insurance companies, and other medical staff would not be required to refer, perform, participate, or even undergo training to perform abortions.
So, if you happen to be a pregnant woman who needs a life-saving abortion, your doctor could completely refuse to save your life or even refer you to people who will. Which is, you know, a doctor’s job.
Whose life does this protect? If H.R.358 protected women and their unborn children, it would not permit them to be at the mercy of their medical providers’ ideological views.
What underlies these restrictions on reproductive health is the fact that there are very few women proposing these bills, and men are calling most of the shots. Men who seem to know everything about circumstances surrounding women’s reproductive health, and do not trust women to make their own choices.
It is a clear attempt to limit access to abortion and contraceptives and reduce women to the “life-bearing vessels” these representatives view them as.
Women do not exist for the sole purpose of continuing the human race. Women are individuals with needs and goals; how can a woman meet her needs if she is uninsured and dependent on Title X for her health services?
How can a woman achieve her goals if the ability to plan the spacing of her children is restricted or taken away from her?
Reproductive health is now the number three issue in Congress. If these people want to get re-elected, I advise them to stay out of individuals’ private medical decisions and focus on the issues we elected them for.
I never expected the 112th Congress to care more about limiting abortion than the economy, but as a mere, life-bearing woman, what do I know?
Allie Huddleston is a gender and women’s studies freshman. E-mail email@example.com.