Once more, with feeling ...
I'm not the only woman in the country who once had a partner who took my paychecks and deposited them in an account that I had no access to; not by debit card, not by checkbook. That started the first year we were married, when I was 18 and I balanced our checkbook wrong. Did I get to revoke his bank privileges later on when he would be late with rent, didn't pay our utility bills, or threw money away on expensive outings and crazy schemes? No.
Years later, at 22, I still had to ask for lunch money every week to take to work, something he'd often conveniently forget about if he was in a bad mood. He was often in a bad mood. My workweek lunch money regularly came out of the change jar and only covered vending machine snacks.
If I'd had a child from that relationship, one way or another, it would have meant two decades of that creep still messing with my head on a daily basis--a fate I was saved from only by a miscarriage brought on by a 2 lb. ovarian cyst, which my Catholic hospital doctor told me couldn't be operated on unless I did miscarry on my own--so lucky me. And he only hit me once in five years, threatened and starved me, so I didn't have it nearly as bad as some of the women for whom the Senate abortion coverage restrictions might as well be a hand covering their mouths and holding them down.
The fact is that reproductive coercion, including sabotaging of birth control, pressuring partners into unprotected sex and outright rape are part of the regular toolkit of abusers who want to keep a partner tightly under their thumb. The term "rape exception" in abortion law circles seems to lead people to think that coercive sex is exceptional, unusual, even if women are supposed to always be expecting it, but coercive sex is a common part of many women's experiences and a third of us will be abused in our lifetimes.
Most women's abusive partners don't outright prostitute them to strangers, but the daily shame, the degradation, the emotional abuse and complete control are the same from the garden variety misogynist legislator to the patriarchal childbirth fetishist.
Under the Senate system which makes abortion part of the initial purchasing decision, a woman's employer, male partner or parents can all potentially prevent her getting insurance coverage for it, whereas now, it usually doesn't come up because most private plans just cover it. Now, of the one in three women likely to need an abortion in her life, millions of women never have to have that conversation. Under the current wording of the health bill, that second check is the federal spousal and parental notification law that never managed to pass.
Then if the administrative expenses and familial approval weren't enough, the second check creates a stigmatizing paper trail for anyone worried about public pressure or vulnerable to retribution by disapproving superiors. Even people who might support abortion might be pressured into dropping plans that cover it and one way or another, abortion coverage will end. That's always been the point of both the Stupak amendment and Nelson's Senate compromise, which will simply work more slowly to eradicate insurance coverage of abortion.
And you might say, well, it's just writing another check for $1. Or you might say, hey, even if the insurance doesn't cover abortion, lots of women will still be able to afford it. And then I'll tell you, look, you don't get it, that's not the point.
Because he used to take my lunch money, and I had nothing, nothing, that he would not allow, no matter what our household income was.
Women, who earn less, who are commonly responsible for the most time-consuming parts of the parenting saga, who are discriminated against by their employers for being parents, who are more likely to be abused, who bear all the health risks of pregnancy and childbirth, can never be fully equal in a society that doesn't prioritize and normalize our access to all forms of reproductive health care. When our health care is stigmatized, we are stigmatized. When it seems normal that men we don't know get to decide if we'll be forced into a two decade commitment, it's only natural that men we do know might think they have the right to decide that for us, too.
If you still want to pass this health insurance reform bill, and I understand why so many people do, understand the cost. Somewhere, right now, he's taking her lunch money, and this bill will let him force her into motherhood, too.