Vaginal Discourse

Nona Willis Aronowitz and Dylan Lathrop have made an impressive graphic showing the lifelong financial costs of each of the eight preventive services* that the Institutes of Medicine recommends that all women receive for free. It turns out “the cost of being a woman” (exclusive of everything beyond these eight services) potentially runs to the tens of thousands of dollars. It’s a scary chart.

Still, there’s something that’s been bugging me about the recent focus on these eight procedures. It’s blatantly obvious to me that any civilized society should give all its members free access to said services. Absolutely. It’s also clear to me that getting these services covered for all women is the best outcome any of us can hope for these days. It’s an incremental approach, but it’s an incremental approach that will save lives and save many women tens of thousands of dollars.

So this is the part where I don’t play Oppression Olympics. There are lots of other conditions (that often enough intersect with womanhood) that are at least as expensive as the “list of eight.” The people with these conditions also may not have the money to pay for their medical care. Any civilized society should also cover the cost of their medical bills.

All medical care should be available to all people and should cost them what they can afford to pay. There are folks like me trying to crowdsource their medical bills. There are charitable foundations that pay for some folks’ care. But ultimately, the solution is to tax people and corporations based on their ability to give, and use the money to make sure that all people are healthy.

I’m not suggesting that anyone who’s eager to see these eight procedures be available for free is arguing against the position I outlined above. Nay, I think we’re mostly trying to do the best we can given a morally bankrupt approach to medical care. However, I dearly hope that when (Maude willingly) these procedures are available for free, society doesn’t forget about other medical needs.

*Diabetes Screening
HPV Testing
IUD Insertion
HIV Counseling
Lactation Support
Hormonal Birth Control
Domestic Abuse Counseling