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November 12, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-11-12

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4A - Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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- I

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
i p Ann Arbor, MO 48109
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position oftthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views ofttheir authors.
Stop Stupak,
Health care reform shouldn't infringe on abortion rights
H ealth care reform is supposed to improve the inequities of
medical treatment in the United States. Initially, health
care reform was about bringing the sub-par health of this
wealthy nation's impoverished citizens up to the higher standards
found in other countries. But concession after troubling concession
has led to a bill so full of holes that its passage in the U.S. House
*of Representatives is only a meager victory. The bill approved by
the House includes a last-minute amendment that bars any feder-
ally subsidized insurance plan from covering abortions. This would
disproportionately affect the ability of low-income women - those
most at-risk for unwanted pregnancies - from obtaining abortions,
and Congress must not allow abortion rights to be curbed through
so-called health care reform.

D4I.-Y P i d
Take this absurd visual metaph
assign arbitrary labels to it, and y
cartooning like the pro's in no
"The hamburger of
(thing/idea) lures
the (social group)
under the boxof
(something bad)."

or and
ou'll be


_ _ --" ._

There should be blood

The Affordable Health Care for America
Act passed the House in a 220-215 vote on
Saturday night, managing to salvage the
hotly contested public insurance option,
provisions for the creation of a national
insurance exchange and new laws prohib-
iting insurance companies from dropping
sick patients. But in exchange, Speaker of
the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) allowed
the passage of the Stupak Amendment ban-
ning health insurance subsidized by federal
dollars from covering abortions
An earlier bill would have only segre-
gated funds used to pay for abortions from
the money coming from the federal govern-
ment, in keeping with 30 years of precedent
against federally funded abortions.
The approved bill would ultimately make
it harder for middle and lower class women
to obtain an abortion. Half of women receiv-
ing health insurance through their employ-
ers have policies covering abortion. With
the introduction of federally subsidized
insurance available to any family of four
making less than $88,000 per year, insurers
would quickly move to make their plans eli-
gible for federal support. To keep costs low,
women or their employers would have to
switch to subsidized health plans without
abortion coverage.
More disturbingly, since the bill would
require most Americans to purchase insur-
ance or face a penalty, low-income women

able to afford only a low-cost government
plan would be forced to buy one without
abortion coverage. In other words, the gov-
ernment would compel women to spend
what little resources they have on a health
plan without a choice in its coverage of
abortion, making abortions unaffordable
and inaccessible to low-income women. The
result would be an unacceptable diminution
of abortion rights for women at the low end
of the economic ladder.
Influential organizations including the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,
which for decades pushed for health reform,
are now so determined to impose their agenda
that they consider the anti-abortion amend-
ment more important than health reform
itself. But the health care debate shouldn't be
hijacked by opponents of abortion rights. The
concessions to this interest group have only
hindered what should be a common interest in
promotingAmerican health.
With millions of uninsured people in the
United States, health reform is certainly
important. But reform should not be accom-
panied by laws that scale back a woman's right
to choose what to do with her body. Health
care reform should empower low-income
Americans to live healthier, more produc-
tive lives - not limit their options. Congress
should support health care reform and abor-
tion rights by agreeing to a bill that promotes
both positions.

Afew days ago, as I walked
to class through the Diag, a
prightly girl in red asked me if
I would like to save
a life. I didn't have
much time to talk to
her, but with a plug
like that, she wasn't
easy to ignore. She
said she was a rep-
resentative from
Blood Battle, the
blood drive com-
petition between MATTHEW
Michigan and Ohio GREEN
State, and asked
me if I would like
to sign up to donate
blood. I would certainly love to give, as
I did in high school, but I chose not to
register because I knew I would ulti-
mately be turned away.
Bynow, it'sbeen well publicized that
the American Red Cross does not allow
openly gay men to donate blood. Dur-
ing the preliminary questioning before
giving, potential male donors are asked
if they've had sex even just one time
with another man since 1977. And if
the answer is yes, that potential donor
is forbidden from donating that day
and forever thereafter. Over the past
few years in particular, gay advocacy
groups have criticized the Red Cross
for this policy.
But in truth, the Red Cross isn't real-
ly to blame for this blatant prejudice.
In 2006, the Red Cross and two other
blood organizations deemed the policy
of banning gay blood both unscientific
and discriminatory, and encouraged
the Food and Drug Administration to
review the case. But the following year,
the FDA reiterated its stance that the
threat of transmitting HIV from gay
menwas too risky. Keep in mindthat as
a federal agency, the FDA was answer-
ing to the Bush Administration in

2007, when it issued its last statement
regarding gay blood donation. Perhaps
it's time for the FDA to readdress the
issue in our current era of greater sci-
entific freedom.
It's clear that the existing policy
inequitably isolates gays. Just because
gay men are slightly more likely than
other demographics to be HIV positive
does not mean they should be barred
from giving blood altogether. African-
Americans are almost ten times more
likely to be HIV positive than Cauca-
sians, but they are still encouraged to
donate. And, of course, all of that is
superseded by the fact that each unit
of blood is tested for seven different
antibodies within the blood, includ-
ing HIV. If it's healthy, it's used - if
it's tainted, it's not. Why can't the same
method be applied for the blood of
homosexual men?
New scientific advances have made
it possible to detect HIV within in
a year of infection. Taking that into
consideration, if it's necessary at all to
address the threat of HIV expressly
from gay men, the policy should only
reject potential donors who have
engaged in risky male-to-male sexual
conduct during the previous year.
Then again, the policy ought to
reject any potential donor who has
engaged in a risky sexual act dur-
ing the previous year, regardless of
orientation. Why should a gay man
who maintains healthy sex habits be
rejected when promiscuous straight
men are permitted to give? Possible
heterosexual risky situations abound,
particularly in a college setting, and yet
they hold no water when compared to
sex between two men.
Until the policy of discrimina-
tion changes, gay men must choose
how they want to react to the policy.
Organizing a joint straight-gay boy-
cott wouldn't be good publicity when

a blood shortage already plagues the
health care system. And simply lying
during the donor pre-screening might
increase the units of blood collected,
but only at the expense of the fight for
Instead, gay men ought to go donate
with their gay friends and resign
themselves to being turned down and
blacklisted, one by one. Doing so, par-
ticularly en masse, would symbolize
the amount of potential blood lost and
would send a signal to the establish-
ment in favor ofpolicy change.
Why I couldn't
Stop to save a life
on the Diag.



Or, dear gay brethren, if you're feel-
ing bold, start out by saying you're
straight. Have your blood drawn, and
then tell them once your blood is in the
bag that you just remembered fooling
around with another guy 10 years ago.
That way, they'll have to pour out your
perfectly useful donation, or, though
it's less likely, they'll pass your blood
along in their own private act of defi-
ance. In either case, the triviality ofthe
policy will be dramatized in an effec-
tive form of protest.
At the end of the day, in the face of
blood shortages across the country,
accepting gay blood donations could
save more lives - making what could
have been tragedies just that much
more sanguine.
- Matthew Green can be reached
at greenmat@umich.edu.

Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, William, Butler, Ben Caleca, Michelle DeWitt,
Brian Flaherty, Emma Jeszke, Raghu Kainkaryam, Sutha K Kanagasingam, Erika Mayer,
Edward McPhee, Harsha Panduranga, Alex Schiff, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith
Patsy overlooks successes of consideration in our evaluation of them.
the Soviet Union Jackson Hagen
LkSA freshman

Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be less than 300 words and must
include the writer's full name and University affiliation. Letters are edited for style, length, clarity and
accuracy. All submissions become property of the Daily. We do not print anonymous letters.
Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.
Defending reproductive rights


Vincent Patsy's column takes the position
that the history of the Soviet Union illustrates
the flaws inherent in socialism, and that the
United States is currently in danger of dupli-
cating its failed policies (The price ofsocialism,
Even ignoring the absurdity of the claim
that the most toothless of social-democrat-
ic policies constitute communism, Patsy is
wrong in his analysis. Many of the flaws of the
Soviet Union can be more easily understood
in the context of its history. A third-world
nation of peasants elevating itself to become
one of the world's most powerful nations and
achieving one of the most dramatic increases
in life expectancy in world history are pretty
impressive accomplishments. It's also inter-
esting that life expectancy in Russia has fallen
significantly since the overthrow of the Sovi-
ets and the subsequent liberalization of the
Apparently, transitioning to Patsy's free
market system has not been as beneficial for
the people of the former Eastern Bloc as his
rhetoric about the innate justness of profits
and prices would have you believe.
Additionally, although there are indeed
imperfections in even the most wisely-run
planned economy, I believe in the idea of hav-
ing decisions related to production made by
the people, or those representing them, rather
than by private businesses who are respon-
sible for their own profits first - usually at
the expense of others. Now I am certainly not
saying that the Soviet society was the work-
er's paradise that its leaders claimed they
were attempting, because there were obvi-
ously many things for which the USSR can
and should be criticized. But it's important
not to limit our attention to certain policies of
nations calling themselves socialist that are
emphasized and distorted by U.S. propaganda,
such as the example of the Berlin Wall refer-
enced in Patsy's column. Rather, we should
take all aspects of these attempts to create
an alternative to the capitalist model into

Athletic Department should
ban homophobic chants
Larry Havilla's viewpoint highlights sexist
and homophobic harassment that I have tried
to address for years (Keep homophobia out of'U'
sports, 11/02/2009).
A few years ago, when I was interviewing Uni-
versity athletes about team harassment based on
sexual orientation, the captain of a men's varsity
team told me that each practice was filled with
slurs such as "homos", "faggots" and "queers".
When a team member left the team without
giving a reason for his departure, the other mem-
bers guessed that he was living in the closet and
could not endure the harassing comments he
heard daily.
A couple of years ago, during the question-
and-answer period at a public panel on whether
student athletes should be role models of ethical
behavior, I suggested that the administrators,
coaches and trainers of the Athletic Department
and Department of Recreational Sports ought to
serve as role models and condemn the homopho-
bic conduct of athletes at workouts and similar
conduct of spectators at athletic events. Athletes
should also be requested to engage in workshops
on gender identity, gender expression and sexual
While racist chants would not be allowed,
Andy Reid's SportsMonday column (I shouldn't
have been kicked out of YostIceArena this weekend,
11/09/2009) and Nord Christensen's letter to the
editor (Author led 'C-Ya' chant, 11/10/2009) make
it clear that sexist and homophobic chants are per-
mitted if not encouraged at hockey games at Yost.
I welcome Andy Reid's suggestions to the Ath-
letic Department re-diminishing, if not halting,
these chants.
I hope the new athletic director will assertively
address this concern.
Jim Toy
Co-Founder, Spectrum Center

f you have been even halfway
plugged to the health care debate
this week, chances are you have
caught wind that
many women and
their allies are not
happy about the
recent bill. H.R.
3962, the Afford-
able Health Care
for America Act,
passed with a vote -
of 220-215 this past
Saturday night. It ROSE
is an achievement AFRIYIE
insofar as poli-
cymaking occurs
at the speed of
molasses and we finally have a health
reform bill - that includes a public
option, ends pre-existing condition
discrimination and extends health-
care to 36 million Americans - that
has been punted to the Senate. But
one small step for healthcare reform
has meant one giant leap back for
The current plan prevents millions
of women from buying insurance
plans that cover abortions, which
impacts particular women who would
seek to purchase a plan in the insur-
ance exchange or through the public
option. At issue is the Stupak-Pitts
Amendment, a last-minute write-in
that bans federal monies from being
spent on health plans that cover abor-
tions except in the instance of rape,
incest and life endangerment of the
For those who are getting ddjb-
vu, read the fine print. The infamous
Hyde Amendment enacted in 1976
prevents federal monies from being
spent on abortion - not insurance
plans that cover them. The Stupak
Amendment ups the ante and deals a
blow to insurance plans. As the name
of the bill implies, bringing down the
cost of insurance plans was one of the
main objectives of reform. But this
amendment creates an environment

where women must choose between
a more affordable plan and a private
insurance plan that will likely be less
affordable but more comprehensive
in its reproductive health offerings.
Some of us work-world bound
women may feel spared from all this
drama because we assume that the
professions we are headed for will
provide comprehensive coverage.
Not so fast, missy. The House bill's
health care proposal imposes taxes
on employers that provide coverage
for their employees that could be
up to eight percent of their payroll.
While there is no way to know for
sure, employer-sponsored coverage
isn't necessarily guaranteed in your
salaried profession. After this is over,
women in large numbers may need
to rely on public plans. Why should
these plans not give them compre-
hensive reproductive health care
I wouldn't be so miffed about this
doggone Stupak Amendment if its
institution hadn't ousted a perfect-
ly sound compromise on abortion.
Under the previous compromise, for-
merly known as the Capps Amend-
ment, the insurance exchange would
provide one insurance plan, in every
area of the country that covered
abortions and one that didn't cover
abortions. In keeping with the Hyde
Amendment, it would have subsi-
dized abortions through co-pay-
ments and insurance premiums in
the event that a woman needed this
medical procedure. At the behest
of the almighty Catholic lobby, and
pusillanimous Democrats who keep
late hours in terror of 2010's election
cycle, this compromise was gutted.
This past Monday, President
Obama expressed to ABC News
his dissatisfaction with the Stupak
Amendment. "There needs to be
some more work before we get to the
point where we're not changing the
status quo," he said. To do this, the
Senate must reinstate the previous

As a sexual health advocate, it's
not lost on me that many abortions
represent the possible transmission
of an otherwise preventable STI or
unplanned pregnancy. The truth is,
underneath this long-held stalemate
we all truly want, are positive sexual
health outcomes and children that
are planned and prepared for. While
abortion is often a point of virulent
disagreement, there are certainly

On abortion,
compromise is
most desirable.
ways to promote informed consent to
sex that meet the objectives of anti-
abortion and abortion-rights folks.
These policies have the benefit of
being outside of pressing health care
reform and allow us to work together
to promote strong families and effi-
cient government spending.
One current plan of this sort js
H.R. 3312, the Preventing Unintend-
ed Pregnancies, Reducing the Need
for Abortion, and Supporting Parens
Act. This act prioritizes low-income
pregnant women and girls and calbs
for an increase in access to health
care, contraception and sex educa-
tion. Abortion-rights opponents
should know that restricting a wom-
an's ability to use her own money to
make decisions that she and her doC-
tor see fit for her body, her family and
her faith are not the way to reduce
the number of abortions in America.
Policies where coalitions are possible
will lead to meaningful progress in
American politics.
- Rose Afriyie can be reached
at sariyie@umich.ed.



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