Last week I scheduled two of my fall preventive health appointments: an all over skin cancer checkup and a flu shot. While I was stripped down to a thin blue paper cover-up, awaiting the dermatologist, I decided to skim through whatever magazine was lying around the exam room.
Given the choice between thumbing through “Seventeen” and the September issue of “Women’s Health,” I chose the latter, figuring that I could waste a few idle ( and nearly naked ) moments, reading up yet again about how to achieve sexy abs, drop a size, sleep well, and slay stress. Instead, I came across a well-researched, thoughtful article titled “What If…” an investigative piece on what is at stake for women on November 9th, the end of this long Presidential election season. It was researched and then written by four journalists, experts, we are told, in health care, abortion, immigration and gun control. They were asked to answer the question: Based on past research and the experience of other countries, what would be the possible consequences of the choices we make in the voting booth?
The facts about policies under fire and at risk were provided by 32 thought leaders from schools of public health, think tanks, foundations, and other institutions.
I confess that when my visit was over and I was left to get dressed, the magazine left the cubicle along with me (and a prescription for face cream). There was too much relevant and sometimes surprising information crammed in that issue for me to read and digest in the short time I waited for my health care provider. I knew I wanted to share it in this blog.
In the healthcare arena, if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was repealed: women could pay one and a half times as much as men in health insurance premiums. Prior to ACA, insurers were allowed to charge women more, a collective $1 billion more than men per year.
48 million women might not be able to afford birth control, since the ACA currently covers 18 forms of contraception, saving women around $1.4 billion annually.
Before the ACA, just 12 percent of individual market plans included maternity benefits. Prenatal care and delivery would not automatically be covered by insurers, or breast feeding pumps or lactation support programs.
More women could develop cervical cancer should the ACA be repealed or greatly altered. An estimated 55 million women would lose free access to Pap smears.
And if the ACA goes away, 15 million low income women, will no longer have health care coverage at all.
What if abortion was once again completely illegal? Based on data from other countries like Chile where abortion is banned, women would attempt to end unwanted pregnancies on their own, or have unsafe illegal procedures. Some of the one million women who miscarry each year might be jailed (in Chile, 113 women were investigated in 2014 and 27 found guilty).
And if restrictions were lifted – such as waiting periods — based again on evidence from countries like Switzerland and Canada where access is less restricted, there will be fewer abortions, earlier abortions, and women’s lives would be saved from mortally risky pregnancies and deliveries.
Next week: What if “the wall” were really built between Mexico and the United States, and there were new efforts to aggressively deport undocumented immigrants? How would this impact these women and their families?