For any of our supporters in the United States, I’m sure the news that a new healthcare bill is up before Congress has been inescapable. The bill has passed through the House of Representatives and now waits with the Senate for them to either pass the bill or, hopefully, kill it. Aside from cutting back on Medicaid and Medicare, raising premiums on the elderly and cancer patients, Caesarean sections and postpartum depression will also now fall under the umbrella of pre-existing conditions. (All of these issues can be addressed in depth on other sites that I encourage you to explore.) The bill also has some changes to what would constitute a pre-existing condition in relation to sexual and gender based violence. Under this new bill, rape and domestic violence would be considered pre-existing conditions.
At Channel Initiative, we are witnesses to the dire effects of predatorial policies implemented or otherwise supported by governments who seem to willfully ignore the needs of victims of sexual based gender violence. It does not end well. Survivors of all forms of sexual and gender based violence need support, counseling, and post-exposure treatment. A system that would primarily benefit insurance companies does nothing to serve survivors of sexual and gender based violence, victims of crimes. Yes, victims of crimes! How dare the political system create a bill that penalizes victims for simply trying to survive, and access the resources they might need for help. If we are to ever combat rape culture, we cannot codify that very culture into our healthcare system. This only serves to further devalue survivors of sexual violence in society. In insurance terms, they existed and so this was bound to happen. How now, will counselors, doctors, police officers, or even friends look a survivor in his or her face, and say this wasn't your fault when he or she will later open their bill from the insurance agency and see that the violation they experienced is coded as a pre-existing condition? This is a pivotal moment in American politics and the history of victims' rights. The world is watching, waiting, and will see what example the United States will set.
And for any survivors reading: nolite te bastardes carborundorum
--Ashley is currently an advocacy and fundraising volunteer for Channel Initiative and an editorial assistant for AACR. As a former English major and history minor, she knows this is a turning point where we need to speak up and act.