While Egyptian citizens are in the streets demanding more democracy, we -- who apparently have all the democracy we need -- are protesting not at all, as Republicans attempt to force radical anti-abortion bills on the American public. Rachel Maddow did an excellent segment on her show Tuesday evening, pointing out the discrepancy between so-called conservative opposition to big government and their willingness to have government intrude into the most intimate and personal decisions of a woman's life.
I have been thinking about this emphasis on abortion for several days. Why would conservatives who were elected to address unemployment and the budget deficit focus so much attention on an issue which solves neither of those problems? Why would conservatives who claim to oppose big government, suddenly spring forward with legislation that increases government control over our lives? When asked, they cannot answer. They cannot answer because this contradiction makes no logical sense -- it makes only political sense. They hope that their base will not figure out the contradiction. They hope that they can continue to spout small government and at the same time, advocate a government that micromanages our most personal behavior. Somehow once the newly elected conservatives got to Washington DC they began to realize how hard it would be to actually cut the deficit and create jobs. Those goals are not nearly as easy to achieve as symbolic (or real) cuts in social programs.
So we are back to attacking abortion and not only limiting public funds for abortion as happened during the health reform debate -- now, if the new proposed legislation is passed, we would not be able to buy private insurance with our own money if it included coverage for abortion. What is so extraordinary about this is that abortion has been covered in private plans for years. Most large employers offer benefit coverage that includes abortion. After all, abortion is cheaper than pregnancy, so including it keeps premiums down. But up to now, if you bought your insurance with your own money, or your employer provided you with coverage through the company, the government did not intrude in the benefit package.
During health reform, I wrote about the importance of the abortion issue. Many of us were deeply disappointed that the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits public funding of abortions, was expanded to prohibit abortion coverage in any plans offered through the exchange. It was a battle lost and one that went relatively unnoticed, particularly among the younger women in the country. Those of us who remember when abortion was illegal in this country do not forget that fact. We will fight to keep abortion legal for our daughters and granddaughters.
But will we fight in the square? Will there be a Tahrir Square here for abortion (or any other issue for that matter)? It makes me so angry that this new intrusion on our privacy, this new assault on our personal choices, comes from a party that talks so grandly about small government and the right to run our own lives. We should all be asking Republicans in our regions how they can explain this discrepancy. And if we don't march, will we sit still and let this happen without any protest? If we do, we are not as brave as the Egyptians. We will not have used the democracy that we so glibly claim as our right.
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