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Health reform bill must treat women equitably


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POSTED: Sunday, November 15, 2009

“;I have a moral objection to paying for any kind of erectile dysfunction medicine in the new health reform bill,”; writes blogger digby. “;I think men who want to use it should just pay for it out of pocket.”;

The argument mocks ones being made to limit abortion coverage in health insurance proposals before Congress. Though the male sexual impairment is a very different—let's say, minor—matter in comparison, parallels are there in digby's satirical reasoning.

“;Many of the men who are prescribed this medication are on Medicare, so I think it should be stripped out of that coverage as well,”; the blogger continues, adding that “;banning tax dollars from covering any kind of Viagra would result in a substantial savings”; since the price of the drug has doubled to more than $1,455 in the past 10 years.

“;I realize that many people disagree with my moral objections to men getting erections, which God clearly doesn't want them to get, but my principles on this are more important to me than theirs are to them.”;

There you have it, a summation of the delirious concoction of self-righteousness, religion and sacred “;tax dollars”; used to defend intrusion in private decisions a woman may make about her reproductive health.

There's also the deceptive data, promoted by Rep. Bart Stupak, the name behind the restrictive amendment. With figures from an institute that has warned he is misusing its numbers, Stupak claims restrictions on coverage won't hurt too many women.

After all, through the Hyde amendment, government has for decades refused federal funds for abortions for Native Americans, federal employees, military personnel and poor women.

Stupak says low-income women who rely on Medicaid so they can go to the doctor when they're sick already deal with Hyde restrictions that are kindly lifted if they are raped, their daughters become pregnant through incest or their lives are in danger due to a pregnancy. No skin off their backs, right?

No skin off the backs of self-employed women hard-pressed to afford basic coverage, much less an abortion rider. But as long as they don't have unplanned pregnancies or any diseases or conditions pregnancy compounds, they have no worries.

Who else? Just the women who get insurance through their employers that won't pay for riders. Just the women who will be able to afford coverage only through a public option plan, if there is one. Just the women who work for organizations that receive federal funds.

No, not too many women, just the ones who make up a good chunk of the working middle class. Just the larger half of the U.S. population whose gender renders them second class, just the women whose control over their bodies, mental health and peace of mind has become the impertinent business of self-serving politicians, priests and mercenary anti-abortion outfits.

There's much good in the health care reform measures, but coverage must be equitable for men and women. Cover Viagra. Cover all of the health needs of women. It's only fair.