Thursday, January 29, 2009

Honeymoon's Over?

It’s dreadfully naïve to think President Obama is the reproductive justice knight in shining armor, and yet us choice activists have been, well, vacationing a bit since his inauguration last week. And why wouldn’t we? A co-sponsor of the Freedom of Choice Act S. 1173) and supporter of the Prevention First Act (H.R. 819), Obama struck down the global gag rule within three days of his inauguration. He was becoming, in our minds, a lot like the nice guy you meet at the bar when you’re out with your girlfriends to celebrate your recent breakup.

The problem with the nice guy you meet at the bar is that any minor difference between him and your ex make the two seem night and day from one another. You end up rebounding with this guy, and it only takes a matter of days to realize that, while certainly a better “pick” than your abusive ex, he’s still far from perfect.

Things seemed to be going all too well between reproductive justice advocates and our new president Barack Obama. Until about a week after his inauguration. The courtship was full of romantic rhetoric about what a choice-friendly executive branch could do for us, the honeymoon a week of actions supporting these ideas, but then there was this:

Medicaid Expansion Dropped

In “seeking common ground” with the other side of the aisle, President Obama seems to be caving to the GOP’s pressure to cut corners wherever possible, even if that means cutting parts of a stimulus bill that are quite possibly most needed to help pull this country out of recession. It’s like this: women are a part of this economy, and their healthcare is threatened when times are tough. Even when women are able to keep their employment, a Kaiser Family Foundation study reports, they are more likely than men to lose healthcare benefits in the face of a struggling economy. And with more families choosing to delay having kids until times are better, well, there’s just no question this stimulus bill is incomplete without provisions on increased access to reproductive health, contraception and pre-natal alike. And without provisions to make access to comprehensive family planning more affordable, it’s likely we’ll see more unplanned pregnancies and more women visiting crisis pregnancy centers for their “free” services.It is dangerous, and completely short-sighted, for any administration that calls itself “choice-friendly” to leave such provisions out in the cold.

Reproductive justice advocates need to do the exact thing women getting out of bad relationships need to do: take some time for yourself, enjoy the company of your allies and the occasional date with a non-abusive man (or woman), but don’t commit to anything new until you’ve found your own way to shed the trauma of the past. I call on all reproductive justice advocates, choice activists, and feminists alike to take a quick breath, mend damages from the past through positive alliances with each other, and while we may share a drink with that nice guy at the bar, I think it’s best we don’t go to bed with him just yet.

No comments: