Playing Games with the Health of Women

Let’s play a game.

In this game, I have figured out a way to prevent something like 400,000 abortions per year.

In this game, you would assume, wouldn’t you, that having worked out a way to eliminate the need for 400,000 abortions, I would become a Hero to the Right ?  I can just see it now:  parades, guest appearances on Bill O’Reilly’s show; gosh, maybe Rush would invite me onto his show.  Great stuff.

Well, not really.  In this game I don’t become a hero; I become an enemy of the people, or something like that.  Because, unfortunately for my game-avitar, the method I figured out to eliminate all of those abortions was by funding birth control.  Makes sense, right ?  If you REALLY don’t want abortions, you will certainly want to fund education about sex – maybe even some on abstinence – and family planning.  In this way, abortions decrease, sexual activity is, perhaps, less “accidental” and more purposeful.  Everyone is happy.

Except in real life – or that which passes for real life in our country today – this is all wrong.

At least some of the people who assert opposition to abortion because of their christian faith and love of humanity seem to be driven more by a profound dislike of women or, perhaps, a profound desire to live in the 17th century, I am not sure which it is.

For example, in the great State of Texas – Rick Perry, Governor Goodhair in Molly Ivan’s immortal words, Governor Oops is what I would call him, is in charge down there – the Republican Legislature slashed funding for women’s health, resulting in the closure of more than 12 clinics last October – Planned Parenthood Clinics as well as others not affiliated with Planned Parenthood – from which mostly working women received their basic gynecologic health care, such as PAP smears for cervical cancer screening, breast cancer screening, and birth control pills; none of these clinics performed abortions (1).

While The Texas Lege just wanted to send a message – apparently: We are in control of your bodies, you are not – they run the risk of doing a bit more than that.  Even though some of the Legislators insist they are not against women’s health care – Wayne Christian, a Republican State Legislator asserts: “I don’t think anybody is against providing health care for women. What we are opposed to are abortions….Planed Parenthood is the main organization that does abortions. So we kind of blend being anti-abortion with being anti-Planned Parenthood” (1) – the programs cut and those that are now at risk of being cut – the Medicaid Women’s Health Program for example – are direct attacks on women’s health.

The Medicaid Women’s Health Program serves 130,000 women Texans, and provides grants to clinics – including Planned Parenthood – to fund those services.  Governor Perry and his Republican colleagues are willing to refuse $ 35 million in federal funds to keep Planned Parenthood from getting any of it.

Services that are primarily for poor and working women and include routine gynecological care, cervical and breast cancer screening, testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, adolescent sexual counseling INCLUDING abstinence counseling, and infertility counseling, among others.

In addition to the Texas Republicans, all of the Republican presidential contenders – Romney, Santorum, Paul (1), Gingrich (2, 3) – oppose federal family planning (termed Title X) which funds the services noted above.

Some of the very screening procedures for which we do better than our competitor countries (breast and cervical cancer screening, for example) will be eliminated for poor and working women by this ill-considered attack on women’s health (4).

Who can say with a straight face, with any honor, that this is not an attack on women’s health ? And on women who are of limited means.  Class and Gender-Based Warfare, indeed.

Let’s not play this game, after all.

References:

1. Belluck P, Ramshaw E: Women in Texas Losing Options for Health Care, NY Times 8 March 2012; Page 1

2. NARAL Pro-Choice AMerica, Livingston amendment to FY’96 Labor-Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill, H.R.2127, 8/2/95; Greenwood amendment to FY’96 Labor-Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill, H.R.2127, 8/2/95.  http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/elections/2012/gop-presidential-candidates/newt-gingrich.html#3, accessed 25 March, 2012

3.  http://www.newt.org/answers/#consistent-pro-life-record, accessed 25 March, 2012

4. Reference: https://ajlayon.wordpress.com/2010/08/15/problems-in-paradise-what-does-and-what-might-our-health-system-look-like-part-one/, accessed 25 March, 2012

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About AJ Layon

AJ Layon was, for 28 years, at the University of Florida College of Medicine, in the Division of Critical Care Medicine, in Gainesville, FL. For the past approximately 10 years, until September 2011, he was Professor and Chief of Critical Care Medicine at UF; In September of 2011 he became System Director of Critical Care Medicine in PA. While his interests are primarily related to health care, health care reform, and ethical issues, as a citizen of our United States and our world, he will occasionally opine on issues of our "time and destiny". You are welcome to respond to him at ajlayon@gmail.com.
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