Surviving Rape And Domestic Violence Is A Preexisting Condition Under Republicans’ New Health Care Bill

by Elissa Sanci

Sexual assault and domestic violence is never the victim’s fault, yet the GOP’s newest health care amendment seems to punish survivors by potentially stripping them of their rights to affordable health care coverage. Because calling a man with countless sexual assault allegations made against him president wasn’t painful enough, now survivors must deal with the ramifications of the newly introduced MacArthur-Meadows Amendment

The amendment, aptly named for two men, will allow states to deny coverage for preexisting conditions. And they’re including sexual assault and domestic violence, as well as postpartum depression and Cesarean sections, in what’s considered a pre-existing condition. Under Obamacare, those with preexisting conditions were guaranteed to receive coverage, but now, the American Health Care Act’s newest amendment will change this, making it likely that survivors will be subjected to discrimination based on their medical history.

Nearly one in six women has been a victim of sexual assault, and the psychological and physical effects of sexual violence can last a lifetime. There’s also the social stigmatization of sexual assault and domestic violence survivors, not to mention how societally ingrained and fully normalized rape culture has become. Sexual assault and domestic violence survivors already have enough to worry about; loss of health care should not be another.

In March, the AHCA fell flat on its face, struck down not only by Democrats but also by Republican moderates. The new amendment should have been a compromise, a way to make the bill less egregiously offensive so it’d pass in Congress. But it’s not. Reportedly, it won’t lower any costs or address any public concern over their health care cuts. It won’t make up for the coverage losses, the billions in Medicaid cuts or the increase in premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

All this anti-woman amendment does is further institutionalize sexism. Because let’s be real – while they’ve claimed (in writing as part of the actual amendment) that this has nothing to do with gender, the majority of people who fall victim to sexual assault and domestic violence are women. And considering that most people who have C-sections and suffer from postpartum depression are women as well, it’s a little hard to believe that the act isn’t wholly sexist. Survivors should be celebrated for their strength and tenacity, not institutionally punished for something they did not ask for. 

Top photo via Gage Skidmore’s Flickr

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