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Should the Government have a say in how Women Manage their Healthcare Decisions?

The Wrong Question in the Wrong Context- The Answer rests within Individual Liberty


Originally published by Illumination on Medium



Photo by Marco Oriolesi on Unsplash

The title of this article is a question I recently encountered while browsing through Quora Contents. It caught my attention because I saw a few controversial issues within the query and among the responses I read. So, I took it upon myself to shed light on several contradictory opinions that I could perceive. However, before I do, let me be clear on one thing; there is no perfect answer to the question, but realistically, there are infinite radical opinions out there. The latter depends on the individual’s background and societal perspective of the issue that has riddled most, if not all, modern societies today. And- if you ask my personal opinion, I must say, there is one short answer and the long one, which I will leave the “short response” to the end of this discussion.

As far as the long answer goes- let us look at the question in-depth and go over some of the answers.

Few Perspectives to Note

In response to the question, Brendan Waugh from New Zealand Writes-

“Yes. Because once they enter the healthcare sector, they start influencing things anyway. Abortion or no abortion, when the Government enters the provision and regulation of healthcare, they have a say in the healthcare decisions people make male or female. If they are funding procedures, they have to decide what to pay for. New Zealand, for example, has an organization called Pharmac, which buys drugs on cost versus benefit. The anti-cancer drug Herceptin was not funded for years because the evidence of effectiveness versus cost was not there. People were denied choice due to government diktat. End of life care is often costly. Thus, there is an incentive not to offer it. But the decision when not to offer it is a tough one, and pressure might be put on the patient not to accept more care. If your doctor is paid on a per treatment basis versus a flat fee, their behavior changes, and this will have an impact on how the patient is advised. Even if there is no government funding, government regulation still has an impact. Who does the procedures, Standards used, etc., Higher standards cost money and thus limit what people can buy? — Regulation may also limit what can be done and when again limiting choices. Ethics rules, for example, mean that a biological male cannot have a sex change upon request. Instead, they have to demonstrate that they are suitable for the procedure over some time. They also control what information a person gets. And this then influences decisions. For education gives people more birth control options. But if they are simply told don’t do it, they have fewer options compared to those who have a larger number of choices. Oddly enough, good sexual education actually reduces abortion. At the end of the government has a say in healthcare choices anybody makes, simply because they have so much influence anyway. In fact, not doing anything also is a form of influence because it could mean lots of stuff which doctors don’t do, would then be done, e.g., sex changes upon request, because there will always be a doctor or two who will be happy to part people from their money.”

Rich Holton From Rockford, Illinois Writes-

“There are some ways in which the government affects people’s healthcare decisions. For example, the FDA determines what medications can be legally sold in the US, based on safety and efficacy. I’m not sure if it’s the FDA, but the government also determines if buying/selling/possessing certain substances is legal or illegal. There are probably other similar cases. I guess some people want to get out of those decisions as well — no laws against selling LSD or PCP or whatever. No FDA deciding if a drug can be sold, even if the drug doesn’t do what it claims, or even actively makes people worse. I think those roles are appropriate. But there are other ways that government is unduly invasive into individuals’ decisions. I see most abortion laws as overly invasive. As I see it, there is really nothing “like” abortion. It is unique. You can’t really compare it to anything else, because of the nature of pregnancy. In technical terms, abortion is sui generis. I understand there’s an adage in legal circles: Hard cases make bad law. Abortion is a hard case. There’s no consensus on it. The government should stay out of it.”

Paul Crerar From Ottawa, Ontario, Canada responds-

“In a way yes. Now, before you get your pitchforks, hear me out: the government should be involved in that they should force medical providers to not be able to deny women healthcare based on garbage like “personal opinion” if that “personal opinion” is founded in non-medical propaganda (like religious affiliations or political standing). If they refuse to serve a woman’s medical requests, they should be required to provide them with ample examples of accessible doctors that are willing to adhere to or council them on their healthcare choices without silencing or flatly denying their requests. The most obvious here is abortions and contraception, but it’s certainly not merely those examples.”

James Arvidson feels- “You ask, “Should the government have a say in how women manage their healthcare decisions?” Regardless of gender, the government should have no say in how anyone manages their healthcare decisions. That is not the purpose of government in the United States. However, since Pandora’s Box of government-paid healthcare has been opened, there is a small caveat. It is not government-specific, though but should be clarified. If someone else, including the government, pays for said healthcare, they cannot force or deny healthcare options. They can refuse to pay for treatment or refuse to support specific types of healthcare financially. Just like any third party.”

Cheryl Lawrence feels-

“No deliberative body should mess with a woman’s right to choose how her body is treated — -not Government, family, church, spiritual body. Not your business.”

And finally, April Moreno strongly feels-

“No, males and the government should have no say in what a woman does with her body, PERIOD.”

My Take

Although I do not personally disagree with any of the answers provided, yet expectedly I can see the diversity of the opinions probably originating from the variety of the societal backgrounds of every responder.

For example, it seems to me that Brandon is visiting the problem from a practical perspective, where promotes actions that equally maximize happiness and well-being for all affected individuals. He describes the government as the ultimate power. He tries to justify their activity because the government, which seeks to meddle in women’s lives, is not necessarily against the female sex. Instead, they must have a say over “female healthcare” only because they are the ones picking up the tap.

I concede with Brandon’s analogy that he sees the problem of government control in an Asexual or Gender-Neutral way. Because it is not only the women who are affected once it comes to healthcare when an administration is in the driver's seat, and he sees bringing the question of sex profile into the argument as redundant.

On the other hand, I cannot see his point on Government paying for everything; therefore, it should have every right over human life. Because what the government is spending belongs to the people, so people have the government. Besides, no money in the world should legitimize an overtake of the individual’s decision-making capacity, be it that the individual is Female or Transgender. The government’s position is to ensure fair market access to everyone and eliminate middle persons meddling in health affairs and 3rd-party monopolies, which almost every government has failed to deliver throughout history.

All other arguments about the costs and effectiveness are a scientific decision. All in all, the lesser the government’s influence on individual health affairs and more concentration on what they are expected to do, the better people will be off.

Rich Holton observes the government’s influence on women’s Health from an administrative perspective and intends to legitimize that forthcoming. The government takes over personal choice on Health and wellness based on the administrative determination of what is collectively safe and or beneficial to the citizens.

While authenticating the legitimacy of governmental organizations like the FDA overriding individual choice, Rich is also against the government over women’s right to choose. Additionally, the part of a government agency is ensuring safety guidelines are met and not to dictate the clinical decision-making process between the patient and the doctor.

The major problem with the last opinion I see is that, just as Rich stated, there is no clear-cut differentiating line as to the scope of government intervention concerning individual choice. Unfortunately, history has taught us that when a government extends its ruling over the citizen’s reign, it will never retreat. Therefore, to the same extent legitimizing women’s rights based on “the nature of pregnancy and abortion as sui generis” is wrong.

The position of Paul Crerar, Cheryl Lawrence, and April Moreno are radical, except for Paul’s opinion being at another end of the spectrum, giving governments all the power to intervene in people’s private lives.

Most typical opinions around women’s Health are specifically about abortion rights, even though there is more to women’s health than abortion. Cheryl and April’s position with regards to the latter is one such example.

“Should the Government have a say in how Women Manage their Healthcare Decisions?”- The Wrong Question

The question put forward by the contributor of Quora is independently controversial and misleading. Governments only follow what their democratic or dictator authority allows. In a democratically elected regime, it is the people who decide the government's responsibility, even though, in a practical sense, politicians are the ones who bend the votes of those citizens. Also, collective profiling of the Healthcare decision based on sex and gender is biased and misleading to the bystander. Realistically, if the question was intended to address abortion rights, it should specifically call it “abortion right.”

“Should the Government have a say in how Women Manage their Healthcare Decisions?”- The Wrong Context

One of the most illogical about the above question is using collective terms for something personal and sacred. The woman’s right to her body (Including abortion) is an individual right to self. Some may argue the opinion mentioned above because men can not relate to the problems exclusive to the female gender, not considering that there are unlimited factors that pertain to individuals’ bodies not shared between two persons, even among same-sex persons. But by overlooking the unique landscape of the issue by referring to it collectively as women’s Health instead of a person’s Health resembles opening a can of worms of discriminatory sentiment.

The Reality around Women’s Health

Just like James Arvidson, one of the responders to a Quora question- “If someone else, to include government, is paying for said healthcare, they cannot force or deny healthcare options. They can refuse to pay for treatment or refuse to support specific types of healthcare financially. Just like any third party.”

Women’s Health and body is Individual “health and Body.” Everyone has the right to choose, irrespective of their profile because no two persons are the same. In line with said diversity, sex is one of the unlimited number of traits that differentiate two people from one another. With that in mind, it is still- not the government’s responsibility or the position to interfere in an individual’s physical and psychological affairs, no matter what the countries constitutional issue implies.

Now- My short personal answer is — A person’s health is “personal,” and it is no one’s affair to interfere with how that individual should care for herself or- Himself. That does not exclude the government irrespective of the sex or Gender profile to which the person belongs.

#womenshealth #abortion #healthcare #government

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