In a speech on the Senate floor yesterday, Senator Barbara Mikulski had sharp words for the Nelson amendment, which would restrict access to abortions for women who accept federal subsidies for health care.
Mikulski began by pointing out that a “pro-life” position should start with allowing pregnant women access to health care. Maternity coverage is something women can’t get in Colorado unless they’re on a government or employer-sponsored plan.
If you want people to have healthy pregnancies, healthy childbirth, healthy babies, they need access to health care. So that’s why I say that voting for universal access to health care is as pro-life as you can be.
Sen. Mikulski followed that comment up with a description of the pro-life position the Senate bill would take toward women–including a reference to Peggy Robertson, the Colorado woman who was told she couldn’t get health insurance unless she agreed to be sterilized.
This bill ends the punitive practices of insurance companies against women, particularly in the area of gender discrimination, where we pay more and get less in our benefit package, and also where simply being a woman is often treated as a pre-existing condition.
Eight states consider domestic violence a pre-existing condition, and you can’t get insurance. One woman who had a medically mandated C-Section was told she couldn’t get insurance again unless she had a sterilization.
Coerced sterilization in the United States of America?
I thought that’s what they did in Nazi Germany?
But Sen. Mikulski saved her best rhetoric for the concept of an “abortion rider”:
It also allows women to purchase an abortion rider. Oh, boy, is this supposed to be a big deal? Is this supposed to be the kind of thing that’s supposed to make us happy? What an insulting, humiliating thing to say: If you want an abortion, go buy a rider.
I think it demonizes women. Why don’t you just go into the workplace and paint a scarlet letter on your head? Hawthorne still lives in the Nelson Amendment. Let’s get an “A.” Let’s paint the “A” word on your forehead. Can you believe this?
I don’t know of any individual woman or any woman in consultation with the man that she loves and loves her saying, yeah, you know, we might have an abortion. Yeah, why don’t we buy that rider?
Nobody plans to have an abortion. It’s not the subject of what intimate conversations that families talk about as they plan their lives together.
You realize the intense discrimination a woman would face?
And how about why not have men buy an abortion rider for the women they get pregnant?
The amendment, scheduled for a vote today, is not expected to gather enough votes to pass.