Posts Tagged ‘healthcare_reform’

Women in Charlotte – Our Sisters’ Keepers

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 © by Susan Swartz

She wore sensible shoes, a crisp white blazer and a smile that said, “Sit up, you in the back row. I’m talking to you.”  It was Sister Simone Campbell, one of the famed “Nuns on the Bus,” stopping by in Charlotte last week.  The only nun to address the Democratic convention but far from the only sister in the room.

Who would dare to continue to make war on women after seeing who they’re messing with? Mindful, smart, gutsy, gorgeous, make-you-cry, make-you-laugh women, make you wish you had one those “uterus” buttons they were passing out on the streets in Charlotte.

Sister Simone said, “I am my sister’s keeper. I am my brother’s keeper” an appropriate  gender-balanced sentiment in a world that sometimes forgets we’re supposedly equal. She won a rousing Hosanna when she said that part of being pro-life means making sure no more people die from lack of health care. And warned of “politics masquerading as values.”

Another backbone woman was Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, who cut through the Republican fog machine over the definition of rape by simply declaring, “Rape is rape.”

In the war on women, our best fighting tools are our words and solidarity. Noting the continued battle for equal pay, a baffled Elizabeth Warren told the Democrats, it’s “hard to believe that we’re still having to say these things in 2012.”

Warren, the consumer rights Amazon, took on Mitt Romney’s notion that corporations are people. No, said Warren, looking like the smartest member of a book club.

“People have hearts. They have kids. They get jobs. They get sick. They cry. They dance. They live. They love and they die. And that matters.”

I sat watching the Democratic convention with a clicker and a notebook, stopping to scribble quotes and take down names of women I want on my side.

There was the gracious Sandra Fluke who ironically found her voice when some political thugs tried to shut her up. There are “two profoundly different futures that await women in this country,” she said, including one “where access to birth control is controlled by people who never use it.”

There was Gabby Giffords leaning on her friend Debbie Wasserman Schultz to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. And Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood, summoning her late mother Ann Richard’s wit,  comparing anti-women efforts by the right to waking up “in a bad episode of Mad Men.”

Lilly Ledbetter, in her biscuits-and-gravy voice, explained how a gender pay gap of 77 cents to a dollar is no penny ante difference to working women. “Maybe 23 cents doesn’t sound like a lot to someone with a Swiss bank account, Cayman Island Investments and an IRA worth tens of millions of dollars.”

Democratic women pushed their party to not shy from women’s issues but to come right out and talk about abortion, rape, birth control, health care and marriage equality and to remember the ideals of helping out each other.

Here were straight talking, no apologies heroines of our time.

Michele Obama reminded all women that our fore-mothers had been dragged to jail for seeking the vote. And she reminded all who enjoy relative comfort, “If any family in this country struggles then we cannot be content with our good fortune.”

Benita Veliz made history as the first illegal immigrant to address a national political convention. Armed with a double college major and the Dream Act, she now has plenty to give “my economy and my country.”

One of my favorites, Cuban American journalist Cristina Saralegui, said we have to do more than protest.

“Don’t boo, vote” will surely show up on some blue T-shirt. And then she repeated the  Obama campaign message of “Forward” but she said it in Spanish — “pa’lante,” which sounds even more urgent.

What Choice? Abortion and the Health Care Reform Bill

Thursday, November 19th, 2009 © by Susan Swartz

The proposed ban on covering abortion, part of the House health care reform bill, has drawn predictable reaction. But one of the most dismaying responses is from those who think it won’t really happen. I understand hoping and wishing that that is the case but that’s not how the anti-choice people work. They think they have conquered the House of Representatives. Now, on to the Senate.

Each restriction on abortion, and this would be a big one, is one step closer to making abortion illegal. And then it’s Tijuana, here we come. Right back to where we started from.

“You never know when unintended pregnancy will strike. Be prepared. Buy our abortion plan today.”

Were Congress to somehow boot the Stupak anti-abortion amendment from a final health care delivery plan, which would be a great relief, do we really think the anti-choice crowd will shrug and slink away? Look how much they’ve already won. They managed to hijack the health care debate and turn it into an abortion battle. They interrupted a complicated national conversation on how to provide health care to all Americans including the millions without health insurance and put the focus on their single cause.

Opponents of abortion said, “You want choice? Here’s your choice.” And then they had their way with a Democrat-controlled House over the objection of its Speaker, who also happens to be a pro-choice mother and grandmother.

The Stupak amendment will apply to only those women who buy health insurance in a government subsidized insurance plan, but why are these women expendable? Plus, their numbers are just going to grow as people change or lose jobs and employers dump their group coverage. Some day there might be no insurance coverage at all for abortion and what would that mean to the hospitals, clinics and doctors who provide them? Would they disappear too? And then?

We know that one. The rich would find a way to get abortions, and low and middle income women would be stuck. And on their way to Tijuana.

You call that health care reform? No, it sounds more like a triumph for the Catholic bishops, the radical religious right, the good old boys in Washington and your basic patriarchal rule.

Of course there is a provision that a woman could buy a separate insurance rider to cover abortion, like you can add earthquake coverage to your basic home and property insurance. And how might that advertisement be written? “You never know when unintended pregnancy will strike. Be prepared. Buy our abortion plan today.”

Maybe the anti-abortion amendment was a ruse to temporarily placate abortion foes. Maybe fair and equitable thinking will prevail.

Then again, people said California would never vote against gay marriage.

Don’t Mess with the Grandmas

Thursday, August 20th, 2009 © by Susan Swartz

I’d like to speak for the grandma camp, the people some fear will be doomed if the president and health reformers have their way. Which grandmas are they trying to scare? Are the fear-mongers so out of the loop they don’t know anything about today’s grandmothers? Grandmas have come a long way since the old Saturday Evening Post Norman Rockwell image, although despite their sweet smiles and homey aprons, I doubt even they would have let anyone push them around.

The modern day grandmas I know, including myself, do not scare easily. President Obama understands the value of grandmas. In dispelling this notion about death panels he spoke of his own grandmother who helped raise him. Does anyone really think that he became president so he could pull the plug on grandmas?

Remember too, that he’s got a grandmother at home right now, his mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, who put her career on hold to help run the household so Barack and Michelle can do their jobs. You think this man is going to mess with grandmas?

The grandmothers I know are much more into living than dying. They tango dance, move to Mexico to teach English, go sea kayaking and run marathons, not to mention their own businesses. And, like grandmas always have, they find time to help raise their kids’ kids.

They have lived their lives as independent take-charge women, but they are also realists and know they won’t live forever. They’re not squeamish about discussing end-of-life decisions. They don’t worry about someone pulling the plug. Rather, they worry about someone some day putting in the plug when there’s no earthly reason to keep them going.

As for advance health directives or living wills, which some have twisted into a death panel, many grandmas are already doing it for themselves.

We realized long before the cruel circus that gathered around Terry Schiavo back in the George W. years that you don’t want religion, politics or family grandstanding their beliefs if you become a long-gone human in a vegetative body. You want your desires written down.

Our family doctor talked to my husband and me about filling out a durable power of attorney for health care the same time she urged us to get a colonoscopy. She didn’t insist on either but suggested that after age 50, both are unwise to ignore.

I am grateful for the part in my directive that says I intend to control my own medical care and if I can’t, it will be up to those who love me most and who understand my wishes. It states that I prefer to die at home and please spare me any futile medical treatment.

Some people would choose a different way. But for me having an end of life understanding feels empowering, like signing the organ donation form so that if I get hit by a bus and there’s anything left the hospital can give my cornea or kidneys to someone who can use them.

I was relieved when the president finally talked back to the ghouls and said their death panel scare tactic was “simply dishonest.” If that’s the best argument they have they’re pitching to the wrong crowd. You can’t pull the pashmina over our eyes.

Grandmas are too tough to be victimized and too busy to be targets. Do you think we spend every morning at the gym and popping fish oil to let someone off us at their convenience? Besides, trying to scare a population of aging boomers, on the cusp of Medicare, who will remain the loudest and most powerful generation for years to come, is not only insulting but politically stupid.

And one more bit of grandmotherly advice. If you look ugly and tell lies and keep interrupting with your tantrums you’re going to end up on YouTube and your face will freeze like that.