Women’s Health Care Issues You May Not Have Thought About

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From The Nation magazine
From The Nation magazine

I found two articles on The Nation‘s website that covered two health care issues of concern to special categories of women: those undergoing plastic surgery and those who are pregnant and in prison.

The first one, “Feminism’s Face-Lift” by Alexandra Suich,  is about an excise tax being proposed on all elective plastic surgery, including the administration of Botox. What is surprising is that the National Organization for Women (NOW) has come out against this tax (which is becoming known as the Bo-Tax).  NOW is contending that often people (usually women) seek out plastic surgery because they need to compete in the marketplace.

This is a reversal of NOW’s usual idealistic stance that when a woman undergoes plastic surgery she is just accommodating herself to society’s standards, which feed on her fear of becoming older. Apparently NOW–which is, some say, a rather stodgy feminist institution these days–is made up of women who have faced the realities of what aging and lack of beauty do to a woman’s chances of advancing in the work world. It’s fine to say that it shouldn’t be that way, but the societal emphasis on youth and beauty hasn’t changed much–if at all–in the years since the feminist movement of the ’60s, when NOW was first formed (in October, 1966).

The second article, “Pregnant, In Prison and Denied Care” by Rachel Roth, is about the inhumane treatment of pregnant prisoners. Although it is their constitutional right to receive health care, enough horror stories are out there about the consequences of substandard or missing prenatal care to cause alarm about what exactly is being done. Women have been made to wait hours, days, even weeks to be taken to the hospital when they are leaking amniotic fluid. One such case resulted in the collapse of the fetus’ skull from lack of amniotic fluid. Other women have been ignored when they are bleeding. Apparently it’s a common occurrence to do as little as possible as late as possible.

Some may say that a prisoner has given up her rights by committing the crime that caused her to be incarcerated. But others argue that this lack of care constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.” It’s also an attitude that is short-sighted about the future of the children who are born to these women. If their mothers don’t receive adequate prenatal care, the babies can be born prematurely and/or need continuing care ti overcome health conditions that result from lack of medical attention.

Then there are the women who will someday return to free society, scarred mentally and sometimes physically from their horrendous experiences. Surely punishment should not include the loss of one’s child or ability to bear more children.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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