It has come to light that one of the ways for women to have healthy pregnancies is to be healthy. This doesn’t seem like a complicated concept, but when it comes to providing health insurance for women, Medicaid has generally only paid for women’s health care when they discover they are pregnant and then through 60 days postpartum. This will change in some states with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, but in many states that claim to show their great love for babies by implementing stringent abortion regulations, there will not be Medicaid expansion. Perhaps it unfathomable that an undeserving woman (or man) might receive health insurance that does not directly benefit a baby.
Those who point out that healthy women tend to have healthy pregnancies often market the need for women’s health care as “preconception care” (for women who already have had a child, it is sometimes called “interconception care“). For instance, on it’s page on preconception care, the Centers for Disease Control says,
Preconception health and health care focuses on taking steps now to protect the health of a baby in the future. However, preconception health is important for all women and men, whether or not they plan to have a baby one day.
I have to applaud the CDC for including men here, as often pregnancy seems to be treated as occurring through parthenogenesis unless the pregnant woman is being slut shamed. However, if preconception health care is important whether or not a person plans to conceive, are we talking about preconception care, or just health care for fertile people?
Despite the CDC’s inclusiveness, preconception care is almost always discussed only in terms of women. Calling health care for women in their fertile years “preconception care” reduces women to vessels for fetal incubation. It makes it sound as if women’s health is only important as it relates to conception, pregnancy and birth. Providing Medicaid only for pregnant women implies that health care is for fetuses inside women, but not for women themselves.
But can’t we care about women’s health because women are important? Can we call women’s health care “health care”?
People deserve health care whether they are pre-pregnant, pre-conception, pre-ejaculatory, post pregnant…you get the idea. If we consider people important, we should consider all people important, including when they are grown up and not having babies.