Is healthcare a privilege or a right?
I believe that it is a right. Some politicians disagree. It is infuriating, but they have more control over the treatments I receive than I do!
This isn’t a problem unique to the U.S., of course. I’ve been following the twitter rants from U.K. posters, and it looks bad there too. And let’s not even get started on countries where women are treated like property. I may cover those another night, but right now, I am thinking about U.S. healthcare (there’s an oxymoron), and who wouldn’t, with what’s happening right now?
The short version is that the president decided to follow the recommendations of a study, and make all contraceptive care free to women. In the U.S., health insurance is generally provided by employers (the unemployed and self-employed have options, but they’re usually lousy.) So it was decided that all employers, except for churches, would have to pay for contraceptive coverage. I don’t like the church exemption, but so be it.
The Catholic clergy went nuts. They didn’t want their religiously affiliated hospitals, universities, etc. to be required to pay for birth control. The solution? The president arranged it so that any religiously affiliated organization with a moral objection could opt out, and the insurance companies would be required to provide coverage free of charge. This works out for everyone, since it still saves the insurance company a lot of money in the long run.
The clergy weren’t happy. Instead of uniting together to preach the sins of contraception to their parishioners, they decided to unite together against the idea that contraception would be provided to their employees. Instead of trying to convince people they are right, they are trying to bully women.
And just to add insult to injury, the panel of religious leaders that was gathered consisted of only men.
Twitter has been aflutter, Facebook has been indignant, and I just want to wake up from this nightmare. The best suggestion I’ve seen so far was on Twitter: That there should be a congressional hearing, made of only female legislators, on insurance coverage of Viagra. [I apologize to the author that I didn't note their name. I would love to give credit to the right person for this wonderful suggestion.]
Now personally I think the real answer is simple:
Make men financially responsible for the fetuses and babies that they father. (Sperm donors could be excused.)
Let’s say there was a law that the man (whether a one-night stand or something more long term) whose sperm impregnated a woman through intercourse (a simple paternity test would ensure accuracy) would have to pay 50% of her abortion costs or pregnancy costs; 50% of medical costs for both mother and fetus/child; 50% of clothing, food, school supplies, recreational activities, tutoring, and other childhood costs. Now, with this law in place, would our politicians be having this inane debate?
And let’s leave aside for a minute the idea that contraception is immoral. Let’s say you believe this. And let’s ignore the slippery slope this would create (what else could employers object to on moral grounds? The most expensive parts of coverage?) What about the many, many women who take birth control pills for other reasons? Personally, my estrogen levels are too low, so I take 1/2 pill every day to raise those levels. This does not serve as birth control one bit. Why shouldn’t this be covered like any other medication? And what about my friend who had a very dangerous birthing experience with her son? Her doctors say that she shouldn’t get pregnant again, that it’s too dangerous. Is it worse for her to use birth control than to possibly get pregnant and need an abortion? According to these men it is. But then, that makes sense: a woman’s life just isn’t as important as a man’s, apparently.
Why are we debating the healthcare that men think women should receive? A small group of religious leaders think that birth control of any type is immoral. A bunch of politicians want to do anything that makes the president look bad, and since they represent some religious constituents, this suits their purposes just fine. And the voters? I just hope the voters make it clear that this is not ok. Our medical treatment is not up for debate. Our family planning is not up for debate.
My big regret today? That I can not tell those jerks what I really think of them in person.
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