Traveling Backwards

Miriam Nei

With so many medical technological advances being made in today’s society, we seem to be regressing when it comes to rhetoric surrounding women’s healthcare. While Congress focuses on the controversial topic of abortion, albeit an important topic, they are neglecting with other issues relating to reproductive health such as sexual and reproductive education, maternity care, mental health care and access to affordable contraceptives. Our society is progressing in so many different fields and we need to start taking bigger steps to ensure progress does not slow and the protection of women’s right to health care, no matter what type is upheld.

Before the Obama administration passed the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA), health insurance companies applied what is referred to as “gender rating”. Gender ratings determined how much a person would be charged in monthly premiums, based off their gender, (Healthline) and is comparable to car insurers charging higher premiums for young teenage drivers. According to, before the ACA was passed, women were paying up to 50-81% more in monthly premiums than men (Healthline). Insurance companies justified this inherently discriminatory action on the basis that women live longer and give birth therefor requiring more medical care, and thus requiring more costs, than men. However, thanks to the ACA, it is now illegal for health insurers to use gender rating along with requiring basic birth control and women’s wellness exams to be covered in full under every plan (Healthline). The Trump administration has upheld its intent to repeal the ACA showing no concrete alternative to replace it. Women’s reproductive and basic healthcare is in jeopardy because of this push.
With the election of Trump came the rising wave of women flooding doctor’s offices to get intrauterine devices or (IUD’s) before their care is irreversibly compromised. Women have had strong reactions, and with good reason, even with the successes of the ACA in regards to reproductive healthcare, there are still dire issues. According to World Health Organization (WHO), about ⅓ of the health issues in women ages 14-44 are caused by sexual and reproductive problems with 222 million women not getting the contraceptive services they need. Deaths were around 300,000 from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, most of which could have been avoided with access to proper family planning and basic services (WHO). It’s time our government and medical professionals make women’s health a priority.

Abortion already being a touchy and highly controversial subject, a turning point occurred on February 8th in Oklahoma, with two House Bills (HB) being presented that would potentially compromise women’s already imperiled healthcare options. The first bill, HB 1549, would keep women from having access to an abortion due to the fetus having a genetic abnormality, no matter how early a woman sought termination. This bill was struck down after it concluded that it was not the imperative of the government to question why a woman elected to have an abortion as long as it was before the time of fetal viability (The Intercept). This means that as long as the fetus was aborted before the state’s cutoff date (usually around 22 weeks) the government can have no say as to why a woman is electing termination.
The second bill, however, was even more alarming. Presented by representative Justin Humphrey, HB 1441 would require any woman looking to undergo an abortion to acquire written consent from her sexual partner before an abortion could be performed. (Jordan Smith) This bill would also potentially allow the procedure to be forestalled if the father of the fetus wished to contest paternity. HB 1441 has the potential to put women in extremely dangerous situations, both physically and mentally, especially for the victims of domestic abuse. With the presentation of this bill, women were essentially being told that they have no right to make a highly personal and difficult decision about their own body without the permission of a man, something that is downright archaic. Luckily, this bill failed to pass, much like a similar provision that was turned down in 1992 (Smith). The presentation of this bill alone, however, I believe is an affront to women across this nation.

According to The Intercept, Humphrey justifies HB 1441 by stating he believes men are “excluded from these kinds of decisions” despite the male-dominated Congress. Women have a right to make choices about their own bodies, but without their needs being represented there would have been violations for their right to healthcare.
Humphrey states he understands that women feel their body is their own, but in a recent statement, women are actually what he refers to as a “host”, stating women should not decide to go back on being a good “host” once she’s pregnant (The Washington Post).

Where we stand today, not only is the rhetoric surrounding women’s health care is at best subpar. We as a society need to focus more on general and preventative health care. Also, we should encourage healthy decisions through sexual and reproductive education, and ensure that women have access to the proper care they need and most importantly are represented in government. It is time for a revolution within the healthcare community.


Theintercept. “Oklahoma Lawmakers Want Men to Approve All Abortions.” The Intercept. Jordan Smith, 13 Feb. 2017. Web. 01 Mar. 2017.

Somashekhar, Sandhya, and Amy B. Wang. “Lawmaker Who Called Pregnant Women a ‘host’ Pushes Bill Requiring Fathers to Approve Abortion.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 14 Feb. 2017. Web. 01 Mar. 2017.

Bustreo, Flavia, Dr. “Ten Top Issues for Women’s Health.” WHO. World Health Organization, 8 Mar. 2015. Web. 01 Mar. 2017.

Written by Rose Rimler | Published on June 13, 2016. “Should Women Pay More for Healthcare Services?” Healthline. Healthline Media, 13 June 2016. Web. 01 Mar. 2017.


Women’s March on Washington 2017

The Woman’s march on Washington was a collection of identities that intersected in one purpose; rallying for Civil Liberties. Joining together for the freedom that was promised to us as our birthright. America is our home; she is our adopted mother. During President Trump’s inauguration speech, he promised to put America first.


But his rhetoric is indicative of a single type of America, a single story. The American that is of European decent. The one that is rich in money and intolerance. The one who has gotten what was promised to him from the moment he was born. That is not the Common American. She is one of many faiths, ethnicities, abilities, orientations, occupations, genders, and other many cultures. We are proud, intersectional, and we are strong.

The America that I know is one that is made stronger by our differences. The lines that divide us; we use to build the strongest foundations. We have grown from 200,000 in 1963 (History) to 470,000 in 2017 (NY Times). Arm in arm we march and we lend our voices to each others life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

We marched for that America.


Martin Luther King Jr. was a preacher who was viewed as more of a threat to our society than the disease of segregation, than intolerance, and especially the domestic terrorism that has been waged and still is being perpetrated against the most vulnerable of us. In my eyes this domestic terror starts with hate speech, and that violence has no place in this nation.

During the hearing of Dylann Roof, a young man who shot nine black Americans in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Chruch on the basis of their race; a victim’s family member said this “We are the family that love built, we have no room for hating” (CNN) Our strength in the face of violent hate and after losing so much, is forgiveness.

But, we must remember the pain of extrajudicial killings from police officers; the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, and countless unnamed others whose justice was denied without police accountability for their fatal actions. Remember that the change we need doesn’t come from a single person, it comes from a movement, it comes from a place of love.


We have not come to denounce each other, we are here to grow in our understanding of each other. To show our solidarity to all others who are also living their nonviolent struggle for peace. I am here to say that Black Lives Matter, Islamophobia is Anti-American, we stand in solidarity of our water protectors in Standing Rock as well as all those people still suffering in Flint MI. Among so many others we stand in solidarity. We must answer the hate by filling the world with more love. I’m hoping by standing out here that the other side will see the validity and soundness of our arguments and appeals. They will gather around the firmness of our truth and our love.

But as Gandhi once wrote back in 1918 in the Indian times, “Prejudices cannot be removed by legislation… They yield only to patient toil and education.”

Donald Trump attended Fordham University and the University of Pennsylvania (BS). And in places of such learning, it saddens me that some lessons didn’t stick with President Trump. With his prosperity, he went to turn over the earth, instead of building bridges and he built walls around his home.

He forgets that we are not opponents on either side of an ideological war. We are not authoritarian soldiers coming to take everything that he holds dear. We have no guns, no tanks, no swords; We only have our pens, our voices, and our want for peace. Especially for those backs that this country was built on. Those who are still searching for the freedom that they came here to find, and who’s justice has been denied for far to long.


To invoke the words of Martin Luther King Jr, just before he was shot like so many of ours today. I have been to that mountaintop, He saw America for all that she could be. He was dismissed as a radical by many but as he states in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” He is a radical of love. He lived the revolutionary moment that existed in his mind. And like him, I have seen that shining city upon that hill.

You are here because you have seen what I have. You have heard the words of our new president and you know that those words do not represent America, our shining city that exists in all of our minds. We have seen a world were people are heard and believed and protected from those who would do us violence. Looking at the past of America; we know that intolerance will fail as all things tended with hate do. Progress is achievable because when we rise with love in our hearts; we win. 




“There is nothing more American than peaceful protest”

— Russ Feingold


Empathy is Prejudice?

You’re most likely to empathize with people who are like you and those who have been kind to you. Empathy is vulnerable to bias; you must choose who you believe; choose who is important. Paul Bloom describes this as a “Spotlight effect” in his book, Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion – we focus on certain tragedies while unable to empathize with those who are affected by them every day. We shouldn’t be trying to be empathizing while making decisions, because we’ll always play favorites and we won’t know where to put the bright-line. Ask yourself if altruism is really the best tool to solve these problems. While It’s okay to feel outrage for someone; it’s okay to feel grief for someone but, those who devote themselves to compassion are not using their empathy. Doctors do not focus not on feeling bad for others. It’s useless to live suffering vicariously through others, that will only leave you sad, drained and ashamed. Instead focus on the problems that causes that suffering, even when we use empathic ideals and galvanize people in order to get things done.

With this “We have to do something” mentality we laser-focus on certain issues we empathize with, and as a society the issues that we chose to address are not to those who actually may need our help. Our existing biases aided and reinforced mostly by an empathetic largely white mainstream media, while never trying to solve the root causes. People still do nothing; being empathetic is not only useless but a unsustainable mindset to use a framework. Often, our gut feelings are not good policy. Sometimes military intervention is necessary but there is too much suffering in the world. We cannot alleviate all of the harm done, and most of the time we do more harm than good. The reason for military action shouldn’t be based on empathy, it should be based on effectiveness.


The Super Power of the President

As Barack Obama stepped down and continued the tradition of peaceful transfer of power, another man with radically different political goals took his place. Donald J. Trump was elected November 8th 2016 and since then his administration has begun sweeping changes via the dismantling of regulatory executive agencies such as the EPA, and other executive orders, such as the ban on travel between us and seven Middle Eastern and African countries. But what does the leader of the free world really do? 

A very important power of the president is called an executive order. In the first two weeks of his presidency Donald Trump has used his single-most powerful tool liberally. Presidents have been getting stronger since the beginning of our government. Executive Orders, according to NBC, “stem from a president’s desire to bypass Congress. The legislative body is not required to approve any executive order, nor can it overturn an order. The best it can do if it doesn’t like an executive order is to pass a law to cut funding for the order’s implementation. But even then, the president can veto such a defunding law.”

The President is the Chief Executive Power; Commander in chief of the army, his decisions affect every aspect of our government. The president’s role isn’t covered in the constitution extensively, so its hard to say where the limit was intended to be. Throughout our history the presidency was shaped by the wearing down of time. 

Franklin Roosevelt expanded the power of the presidency in the New Deal by issuing over 3,000 executive orders over the course of his presidency. With the start of World War II, FDR issued the executive order to force any US citizen of Japanese descent into internment camps, which has been regarded as one of the more deplorable acts in US history. FDR was also the only president that had served for more than two terms. Another time decades later, during the 70s, Nixon reluctantly begun the Environmental protection agency and passed the Clean Air Act due to public pressure. 

According to the Constitution, Congress should be the center of lawmaking as well as deciding whether or not we go to war. However, during the cold war, the president was given unilateral authority over the CIA, which during this time was doing a lot of shady things abroad to say the least. (Klein) A president has tried to wage full out war without congress’s approval, which ended up as the 1973-war powers act which checks the President’s power to commit to conflict.

Which brings us to the fact that our separation of powers; checks and balances itself but it doesn’t operate the way people think it does. The president is the leader of party, country, and entire executive branch. But he’s not all powerful. He’s not superman. He needs cooperation from party and the nation. Guantanamo bay is a good example of party blocking, for example; Bush was blocked and Obama was blocked by both his own party and the GOP. He had to sidestep congress and execute his executive order just like so many presidents before Obama.

In 2014, Obama tried to revamp immigration processes and help undocumented migrants in his executive order but was blocked by the state of Texas along with 26 other states; In United States v. Texas, No. 15-674. Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, stated “Today’s decision keeps in place what we have maintained from the very start: One person, even a president, cannot unilaterally change the law, This is a major setback to President Obama’s attempts to expand executive power, and a victory for those who believe in the separation of powers and the rule of law.”

While a President’s executive orders were ultimately meant to further the quality of life for the common American and therefore fulfill their duty, a check of powers is necessary in order for a government to work sustainability and service its people properly. A solid democratic and representative Government is not based on the whims of a single administration, or a single group of people. It is based on the strength that our diversity and our reason brings us.

Klein, Naomi. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. New York: Metropolitan /Henry Holt, 2007. Print.