Gender disparities impact health care

Nicole Leonard

I am an adamant believer in the notion that gender equality will result from a holistic approach to policy implementation and change.

This stems from the philosophy that certain constructs must be studied and applied in a way that looks at the entire system as a unit rather than a sum of each individual part. Simply, equal treatment should not be subject to discrepancies on a case by case basis.

For example, both men and women should be required to sign up for the draft to avoid one-sided, gendered obligations in this realm. This idea trickles down to more informal expressions of equality in areas such as romantic relationships as well. Men and women can pay for each others’ meals, rather than abiding by the outdated sentiment that chivalry falls entirely on the man’s shoulders.

Pressures to distinguish between responsibilities of the man and the woman through the utilization of us-against-them rhetoric is divisive and counterproductive. Men and women are equally capable in many regards, and they should be treated as such by both policy and social practices.

The exception to this theory, though, is health care. The fact of the matter is that men and women have different biological capacities. This does not mean that one sex is weaker, less intelligent or less capable than the other. It merely means that differences are evident in the biological makeup of the sexes.

Men’s, women’s and transgender people’s health are separate entities. Each of these distinctions deserves its own category in terms of policy.

Men are susceptible to prostate cancer, and women are not. Women can give birth, and men can not. In these cases and many more, sex discrepancies necessitate different health accommodations.

For the purpose of this article, I must recognize the bias that I am a young woman focusing specifically on women’s health within the scope of this larger issue.

As of 2017, only 19.6 percent of the U.S. Congress is comprised of women. This gap makes a massive impact on the dynamics of health care policy development.

I am not trying to suggest that women are ignored or necessarily marginalized by the current administration or Congress’s interpretation of health care up until this point. However, the overarching theme in current and proposed policy reflects a pathetic lack of empathy for the female experience.

I can begin to comprehend the complexity of an issue like women’s health, but I will never understand its implications upon the entire spectrum of humanity. Herein lies the difficulty of tackling such a task as reforming women’s health.

However, certain blatant contradictions resulting from political support, rather than actual consideration for those affected by policy, have become startlingly overt in recent months. For instance, the combination of limiting access to contraceptive coverage, support for an abortion ban and a failed plan to eliminate the adoption credit are evidence of this disregard for considerations of women’s health.

While each of these policies is controversial, they all serve the purpose of effectively hindering a woman’s ability to dictate the trajectory of her own reproductive health.

Women have a long time before they make up a majority or even a half of the legislative body. Consequently, the men who have been elected to represent their female constituents should adopt a more conscious consideration of the female experience.

Policy is a reaction to social frames of mind. It begins with an alteration in the conversation and the methods by which powerful men consider ramifications they will never endure themselves.