11/09/2009 03:31 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Strange Bed Fellows: Health Care Reform and the Stupak Amendment

How did women’s reproductive rights become the bargaining chip for health care reform in this country? Federal funding for clinics is essential to the future of women’s reproductive rights and health. The Stupak Amendment slams women back to a time of unsafe abortions. What is the President thinking? Didn’t we fight this battle before and wasn’t it put to rest decades ago? And what alliances were forged that put women’s reproductive rights into play yet again? There is something very odd about this dilemma. It causes one to ponder how we got here and why. Realistically, health care reform has become very nasty business fraught with religiosity, prejudice, hatred and fear mongering. It has become the divisive issue that the Iraq War was in 2002, 2003, and 2004. Either you are with us or against us – clear and simple. Partisan lines were drawn again, and GOP support was withheld in the landmark bill passed in the House on Saturday evening.

Yet somehow, women’s reproductive care became the oil thrown on an already smoldering fire. Infant mortality is rising and pre-natal care is already declining during this tough economic Recession. Women are already not getting the care that they need. They fear the rise in health care costs and their associated premiums. Making it unaffordable for poorer women to have abortions just means that they will suffer the consequences of illegal and life threatening procedures. Sadly, we seem to take better care of third world women than we do of our own.

Why did reproductive services become the wedge issue in the passage of health care reform? No one wants to slow down that reform, and most importantly not women. How did this become the throw away issue?