Why Men Should Care About Pregnancy & Maternity Health Care

by Jenn Rose

The central conceit of the new Republican health care plan is that Americans shouldn't have to pay for services they don't use, and many a GOP lawmaker has said as much. Women will be among the most vulnerable when it comes to losing coverage, but that doesn't mean that they alone should be concerned about it. Men should care about maternity care and pregnancy coverage, even if they'll never use it, because taking care of each other is one of the most basic principals of a civilized and a democratic society.

Every day, Americans pay for things they'll never use, for the good of others. My childless neighbors pay for my child's education. I paid to put out a fire across town. We pay for wars we oppose, aid to countries we'll never visit, and weekly golf vacations for a president many people didn't elect. Health care, like taxes, can't be à la carte, because unfortunately, we can't trust everyone to prioritize correctly, and those who need certain services sometimes have to depend on others for support. If only the wealthy have access to their basic needs, then humanity, as a whole, has failed. Nobody would argue that only victims of crime should have to pay for police salaries, and health care is no different.

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts drew the public's ire in March after joking about losing access to mammograms, and after Iowa Rep. Rod Blum complained about having to pay for maternity care during a recent town hall, Dubuque resident Barbara Rank responded via a letter to the editor in the Telegraph Herald:

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.

Women pay for men's prostate exams and erectile dysfunction medication; it seems only fair that men subsidize ultrasounds in return. And even if a man will never be pregnant, he might get a woman pregnant accidentally. He'd certainly be grateful for coverage then. And each and every one of us once depended on a pregnant woman for our very existence.

Too often, when trying to humanize women, people make the argument, "What if it were your wife, your mother, your daughter?" But that only puts women in the context of someone a man prefers to the average stranger. Women aren't a subset of humans. They are humans. It's better to say, "What if it were you? What if you had cancer, and every cancer-free American said that they weren't responsible for helping you?" Looking out solely for one's own interests isn't democracy. If you don't care about other people's rights, you don't care about people, period.