As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the House passed the health reform bill last night. It’s a big step toward health care reform in the US. Although there’s certainly a long journey ahead for the bill, after months of infamous townhall meetings, bickering over inclusion of a public option, and vicious attacks from both Democrats and Republicans, it’s a pretty big accomplishment.

But amid the cautious celebratory mood progressives are undoubtedly in, there’s a shadow that should be looming over all of us. The House has passed a bill that has an absolute and utter lack of protection of abortion rights. Congresswoman Schakowsky says, via The Nation:

This amendment goes far beyond current law which already bans the use of federal funding for abortions. It goes far beyond the language already in this bill that guarantees no federal dollars are used for abortion. This amendment says that a woman CANNOT purchase coverage that includes abortion services using her own dollars; middle class women, using exclusively their own money will be prohibited from purchasing a plan including abortion coverage in every single public OR PRIVATE INSURANCE PLAN in the new health care exchange.

Basically, not only is abortion coverage excluded from any public option, and federal funds blocked from covering the procedure, but any woman who receives any form of subsidy or government support for health care will not be allowed to purchase insurance relating to abortion. This includes any private insurance plan. And any private companies that participate in the new system will have to drop any coverage relating to abortion. In the new framework of the new healthcare system, this would ensure that millions of lower or middle class women  will not have access to reproductive rights. You can read the Stupak Amendment here.

The bill already barred using federal dollars to pay for abortions– the new restrictions go beyond that language. Federal funding for abortions was already off the table; the new restrictions bar women from making that decision with their own money.

This stands in opposition to the very phrase “a woman’s right to choose.” To pass health reform that actually scales back options for women is grievous. And The Nation points out that even non-abortion-related women’s health services aren’t required. Such as:

…pelvic exams, domestic violence screening, counseling about sexually transmitted diseases, and, perhaps most startlingly, the provision of birth control

If you ask Rep. Sessions, it’s okay to discriminate against women in health care– because, “Well, we’re all different…Why should a smoker pay more?” Yes…that’s right. Being a woman is a bad habit people pick up…I mean, it’s their fault, so they should have to bear the burden of being female!

I’ve said this many times before, and I’ll say this again: if people are really interested in reducing the number of abortions, investments in preventive care, birth control, and counseling are the tools to use– not greater restrictions on a legal procedure, that will only endanger women’s choices and lives.