Iowa woman’s letter on health care goes viral
Republicans have been hearing a lot from the people they represent lately, and most of the things they’re hearing sound something like, “Why are you trying to kill me?” But at a town hall last week on the GOP’s new healthcare bill, one Iowa congressman said that men shouldn’t have to pay for maternity care, which led to a delicious 96-word response in the local paper from a retired special education teacher named Barbara Rank that has now gone viral.
Last Monday, Representative Rod Blum of Iowa decided to stretch his wings during his town hall and not only make women feel doomed to high premiums and slow deaths, but also belittle them.
That’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for them.
When talking about which aspects of the Affordable Care Act he thinks should be changed, Blum heaved his pristine, steel-coated balls onto the gymnasium floor and said, “[We should] get rid of some of these crazy regulations that Obamacare puts in, such as a 62-year-old male having to have pregnancy insurance.” You wouldn’t have thought it possible from all the boos and heckles he was already getting, but that statement managed to make Blum even less popular among his constituents. It’s almost like pregnancy is an issue that affects both men and women, or that being part of a healthy, caring society means helping other people and not just yourself.
It’s hard to put into words everything that’s wrong with Blum’s statement. Unless, that is, you are a 63-year-old woman from Dubuque, Iowa named Barbara Rank, in which case you can spit out the perfect response to your local paper using less than 100 words.
Rank, hereby known as our new High Priestess of Truth, was at the town hall meeting that night. She didn’t get up and say anything at the time, but a few days later she sent her thoughts to the letters section of the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. Someone posted a picture of her response to Reddit and the crowd went wild. In the past two days, the photo has received 8,250 comments, over 100,000 upvotes, was written about in The Washington Post, and became a Twitter “Moment.”
Rank lays out the problem with Blum’s statement very simply, saying, “I ask, why should I pay for a bridge I don’t cross, a sidewalk I don’t walk on, a library book I don’t read? Why should I pay for a flower I won’t smell, a park I don’t visit, or art I can’t appreciate? Why should I pay the salaries of politicians I didn’t vote for, a tax cut that doesn’t affect me, or a loophole I can’t take advantage of? It’s called democracy, a civil society, the greater good. That’s what we pay for.”
Barbara, you’ve got us speaking in tongues and fainting at the altar. Preach on, our common-sense-spouting sister.
Like Rank, we reject the idea that our country’s healthcare plan should be “every man for himself” (and that’s literally every man for himself.) We see the world as a place we all live in together, and somewhere we could not survive without each other. If we turn our healthcare system into one where we only pay for our particular needs, we will become a country where the poor and sick are left to die, and where the young and healthy will thrive until they are similarly abandoned. There’s a saying among the disabled community that people without disabilities are “temporarily abled” because one day we will all have some kind of disability, whether due to age or accident. It is the most disgusting kind of selfishness and shortsightedness to want to pay for your annual exam and your rosacea but not contribute to your neighbor’s chemotherapy because you’re not the one who has cancer.
And let’s not lose sight of the fact that Blum’s statement is misogynistic and typical of those men who think that pregnancy and childbirth (and, probably, raising kids as well) are women’s issues and not men’s, which I think most of us recognize is a huge crock of Blum (new phrase, feel free to use.) And the fact that he chose to use that as an example instead of, let’s say, a 62-year-old woman having to pay for prostate exams, speaks volumes.
It’s people like Rank who are brave enough to put their thoughts out there who will be the voice for the millions of us who see what this bill is trying to turn this country into and want to save us all before it’s too late. And for those of us who aren’t quite as profound as Barbara, we’d like to wish a lifetime of flaccid penises on Blum and others like him, because we sure as hell won’t be paying for the drugs to harden them.