Is asking the government to pay for manicures and pedicures the same as requiring insurance companies to fully cover women’s health? No.
Women have been fighting tooth and nail to get equal coverage in health care for generations and now, when we have achieved some success in the recognition of what complete health care means for women, pundits are making it sound like women have received an undeserved windfall.
This week, Fox News’ America’s Newsroom hosted an “expert” who claimed that the new rules to fully cover women’s preventive care, including contraceptives, were the equivalent of giving women free pedicures and manicures.
Seriously? These services are central to women’s preventive care and should be covered in the same way that other services, including those for men and children, are already covered. A recent Guttmacher report found that virtually every woman in America will use at least one contraceptive method in her life; this includes religious women. Pregnancy is a primary health issue for women in our country who spend on average 30 years of their lives trying not to get pregnant. Spacing and timing of pregnancies plays an important role in women and children’s health and well being. To trivialize pregnancy and its health effects on women is sexist and wrong, and again creates negative rhetoric against women, their reproductive health and the families they create.
Women’s health care, including contraception, breast pumps and counseling for abuse, is not the equivalent of pedicures and manicures. They are the building blocks of preventive health for women. An expert panel of doctors and scientists found these services are central to women’s preventive health. It was 100% appropriate for HHS to include them in the preventive care regulations. The decision was welcome news for millions of Latinas and their families as they seek to plan and space their pregnancies, keep their pregnancies healthy, keep their infants healthy, or prevent deadly cancers and illness.
Being a woman has always been seen as a pre-existing condition in our for-profit health care industry and it is not only sensible, but also just for government to change this tide. The new health care reform law is leveling the playing field so that women can get their complete health care covered in a way that considers the fully scope of what women need. As representatives of Latinas in this battle, we fought through the extra process, effectively dispelled a constant campaign of negative rhetoric about Latina women’s reproductive health, and won a major step forward in equality in health care for women. Fox’s “experts” cannot take that away.