This Monday the world has become a different place. A new Administration has taken office in the United States. But more importantly, women across the country and across the world have become galvanized. Many marches of hundreds of thousands each took place on Saturday. These were largely demonstrations by and for women to make a statement against sexism, misogyny and against the loss of health benefits in the US. I’m not sure the world has ever seen political activism for one goal on such a large scale.
Democratic lawmakers made a last ditch appeal on Friday, urging that the GOP halt the repeal. They cited the many clauses of the ACA which prohibit practices which are discriminatory to women, such as denying coverage of contraception and coverage for women-only health screenings such as mammograms. They cautioned that this, along with defunding Planned Parenthood, would harm women in every state.
It is becoming clearer and clearer that many Republican governors do not favor a wholesale repeal of the ACA. They know that repeal would cause chaos in health care, as well as increasing costs for their state programs.
In the shocking numbers department, it has been determined that HALF of all men have genital infections caused by HPV. One in four of those have viral strains which can cause cervical cancer.
Meanwhile, New York State is reporting a 50% decline in cervical cancer deaths since 1976. This is attributed to women obtaining regular paps to detect precancerous conditions and the introduction of the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine Gardisil.
It is interesting to note that abortions are at a new low since the institution of Roe versus Wade case law in 1973. Researchers attribute this new low to the increased availability of affordable and longer lasting contraceptives.
If the ACA is repealed, both these important gains might likely be lost since the ACA has covered contraception and health screening for women.
As if to add insult to injury, repeal of the ACA would also strip breastfeeding protections from the workplace. These protections are in place through the ACA.
The ACA deals with more than women’s health issues. The ACA contained provisions to authorize a fund to combat the costliest of our chronic diseases: diabetes and heart disease. Repeal of the ACA could eliminate this fund, which is for state public health programs.
Americans may be divided, but 40% across both sides of the aisle agree that health care should be a top priority for the new administration. Meanwhile, the popularity of the ACA is steadily climbing in the polls. Forty eight percent of Americans strongly approve of the ACA. Of those 22% of respondents who want it repealed, half want to do so only when a replacement is in place. The Congressional Budget Office itself has calculated that if the ACA is repealed, 18 million people will lose their insurance in the first year. Over a decade, 32 million would lose insurance. They also estimate that individual premiums would double.
In Zika news, officials have been debriefing from the season. They feel the greatest failure has been of prevention in the areas most affected by Zika. They have emphasized that the toll taken has scarcely been counted.
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is still a scourge. Over a hundred thousand babies are born yearly with this condition. Britain has one of the highest rates of FAS in the world, with 40% of British pregnant women drinking during pregnancy.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has continued to take issue with the FDA on their overly conservative and out of context warnings on anesthetics in pregnancy. Their concern is that caregivers and patients will be reluctant to have critical procedures such as appendectomies and gall bladder removals in pregnancy should they become necessary. Surgical illnesses such are these are very much threats to both mother and babies in pregnancy and should be dealt with in the standard fashion. To put theoretical concerns from animal studies ahead of clear and present dangers is missing the forest for the trees.
Contact your elected officials with your concerns. It is not enough to march.
Stay tuned next week for more breaking news from the world of Obstetrics and Gynecology.