exactly that

Why Act Surprised?

A row of military combat helmets on a bench in front of what appears to be the knees of presumably soldiers, all clad in Army ACU camo.So here’s a funny story for you…

With an all Democratic Congress, and a Democratic President, we weren’t able to get a lot of shit done that was promised to us, and without saying “I told you so” (oops, a lot of people just did and have been, like The Red Queen), it isn’t like we didn’t see this coming when you are forced to choose the lesser of evils.

We do not have a Pro-Choice President, despite what all the orgs might have toted along the way.

One of the things that I was extremely angry to see, and in part really made me doubt the power of push-button petition activism is the fact that we allowed Congress to strip the portion of the Defense Authorization Act that contained provisions for women servicemembers’ healthcare, specifically the part having to do with her ladybits.

But apparently the need to care for your ladybits is far too controversial if you tote a gun around a battlefield or are working aboard an Aircraft carrier and while you can expect the government to fund your steel-toed boots (which they don’t) and buy your ship (which they do), you can’t possibly expect them to cover all of your body parts in your healthcare coverage (which they should).

Women have not been allowed to receive abortions in military facilities for a long damned time. It has been lobbed back and forth in Congress casually by men who never will ever have to worry about how an unplanned or, yes, unwanted pregnancy will affect their careers (and let’s not pretend that most of Congress never has been part of the military or isn’t so far detached from it that they are irrelevant).

This trifle of information might not seem like a huge tidbit to someone in the States, but to a woman serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti, or, say for example, Republic of Korea, countries where abortion isn’t legal, then it is an issue. These are places where an unwanted pregnancy can’t be dealt with on the economy because the laws don’t allow it. A woman would have to find ways to travel to the nearest country, after securing leave from a commander who is more than likely a man, and who will more than likely want to know why (forcing the release of private medical information).

This of corse all costs money, forgetting all the money for travel.

But some women don’t have even these luxuries, and they know that ostracization isthe biggest fear of all, and they take extreme measures at the end of the cleaning rod of a rifle.

I’ve been seeing a lot of outcry, recently, about Republicans wanting to strip abortion services and provisions from insurance coverage for women over there in the States.

Welcome to our world.

We, uniformed women and dependent (I hate that word) family members of servicemembers have long been denied access to safe, legal abortion services. For four decades our access to abortion has been a political ping pong ball, and our access to a full range of reproductive health services has been nothing but a rec room game.

Unless we can prove rape or incest, or we can get a doctor to say that our lives are in danger (and that is purely at the discretion of the doctor, and I could tell you horror stories of women who have been at the mercy of doctors unwilling to declare this), abortions are not to be had. We only recently were able to access Plan B as part of our TRICARE Formulary (the medications required to be on-hand at all military treatment facilities).

And when the call came out to support the repeal, the silence from mainstream feminist groups was staggering. The only large group that supported it was NARAL, and I am pretty sure I only heard from Nancy Keenan in my inbox twice (usually with a call for money), twice again at Change.org.

My petition to garner support ended with only 631 signatures after more than six months of driving it and pushing it in a way that I was afraid was going to lose me friends and followers. But I believed in what I was doing with all of my person, so I didn’t care.

And Congress stripped the Burris Amendment, the amendment that would have repealed the ban on military abortions in military facilities (if they were prepaid with private funds, and it required no government funds to support) from the DAA prior to passing it.

Military women still can not have a full range of medical care, even though they support and defend a country in which it is legal.

So when I see the outcry from feminists on their blogs and see everyone outraged that Republicans in their new Republican controlled congress are blocking abortion access from insurance coverage and chipping away at the rights of civilian women to access abortion (which I think is wrong, and have said unequivocally many times) and doing their damnedest to make sure that abortion is difficult to access for civilian women…I am finding it hard to say anything but…

How can you be outraged? I am not angry… but kind of flailing here. I am not holding people accountable personally, but when we needed the support of people to pound home this issue… we didn’t have it.

When you fail to take a stand to protect the rights of a small group of oppressed people you can not possibly expect that your rights will not be chipped away at next.

We have to stand together or we will fail to stand at all. When the Republicans managed to succeed in squashing the only chance for military women to have abortions included in their health care and cast it off as a “contentious issue”, it was only a matter of time before they managed to presume that it was OK to continue to dig away at the rest. Why would they think that anyone cares about women’s health care? We don’t seem to care about it enough to stop them from steamrolling over a small group of women, so on to the next group, then the next and so on…

Or, is it because soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and coasties don’t matter? I mean, as I said on tumblr, we know they fight wars, which is wrong, so I guess it is OK that they don’t enjoy the same rights as us, amirite?

I am not sure, but all of this outrage just overwhelms me.

Welcome to my world.

You had a chance to support us in return for our service and tell the Rethugs that you give a damn about full, comprehensive health care for women. I can’t believe you are surprised by this next step Congress has taken.

If you are a servicemember or dependent family member who needs access to a safe abortion and has been denied, the ACLU is looking to represent you. You may contact me at ouyangdan [at] randombabble [dot] com and I can put you in touch with someone who is willing to help you, while keeping you anonymous if you wish. You are not alone or without people who care about you.

Photo Credit: U.S. Army

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