Is the American Healthcare System Failing Women? #NowWhat

Is the American Healthcare Failing Women? #NowWhat

Since Donald Trump became president, women — and the men who support them — who value their right to buy affordable birth control and have a healthy pregnancy have worried that the administration would soon limit their healthcare coverage. It appears that day is nearly here.

Birth control

The Trump administration is making moves to reverse the Affordable Care Act’s so-called “contraceptive mandate”. This requires most employers to provide free birth control coverage to employees.

The “reversal” isn’t final, but if implemented, women’s groups across the country warn that it could impact contraceptive insurance coverage. And young women, low-income women, single moms, and women of color are most vulnerable to this possible change.

Roughly 20 million women in the U.S. rely on publicly funded access to contraceptives, Dr. Mellissa Withers, a professor at the Institute for Global Health at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, says. Women who qualify for these subsidies are either under 20 years old and/or living below the poverty line.

“These women are the ones who need low-cost contraceptives because the cost of contraceptives is a major barrier to their use,” Withers adds.

Pregnancy and death

We’ve all heard the dark joke that once a baby comes out of a woman, Republicans couldn’t care less about what happens to the baby — or the mother, despite all of the right-to-life agendas pushed by the party. This joke is becoming reality.

A recent Cosmopolitan article highlighted the disturbingly high rate of pregnancy-related deaths in Texas. This death rate is the highest in the country and the developed world.

And this trend isn’t exclusive to Texas.

NPR and ProPublica report that America at large has the highest rate of pregnancy-related complications that result in death in the developed world.

People who monitor the healthcare system’s strength use maternal mortality rates as an indicator of overall quality and access, Withers explains.

“When we see rising maternal deaths rates in a developed country like the U.S., it raises a huge red flag in terms of how effectively we are meeting women’s healthcare needs.”

And a woman’s circumstances—low-income background, young age, or undocumented status—contribute to the reduced likelihood that the woman will seek maternal-related health services that can be crucial to her health and well-being.

“Services include receiving proper prenatal care that can detect potential complications associated with pregnancy,” Withers adds.

Make change

Vote. Advocate. Repeat.

These tried and true suggestions can help you make change.

  • Fight federal and state restrictions that focus opposition and efforts solely on abortions. These restrictions harm pregnant women and disadvantaged women.
  • Demand that women’s health clinics be part of your community and do your part to support their success.
  • Start supporting women who run for city council, the state house, congress, and the presidency.

And let’s conclude with this: Don’t give up. We can make change happen. We just need to  keep at it.

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Abbie Stutzer