Essays

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 healthcare.com, 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.

References

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.