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February 23, 2017 by

How Repealing the ACA Could Specifically Impact Jewish Women

medical-563427_1280Since the beginning of the Trump administration, we’ve seen the destruction of social safety nets that benefit the most vulnerable Americans, particularly women and folks of color. This destruction isn’t even limited to the U.S.—as one of his first executive actions, Trump reinstated the Global Gag Rule, a policy dictating that no federal funding will be given to non-governmental organizations around the world providing abortion counseling or support for abortion in any way, without including the usual exemptions that even anti-choice administrations typically make available. 

In the U.S., the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare has allowed 20 million Americans who previously did not have health insurance to access it. The A.C.A. has always been under attack, but Trump has vowed to take it apart completely, and the process to repeal and replace has already begun. The language around health care policy isn’t necessarily accessible to the average person, but one thing is clear about what the dismantling of the A.C.A. and the defunding of Planned Parenthood means: people who need preventative care the most, including Jewish women, won’t be able to afford it, and the results of that fact will be devastating.

Here are some of the things we know about Jewish women’s health:

  • 1 in 40 Jews will get pancreatic cancer, a higher number than the general population. 
  • Mental illness is stigmatized in Jewish communities, including eating disorders, manic depression, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia (which might also have a genetic connection for Ashkenazi Jews).

In addition to these health issues that particularly impact Jewish women, there’s also heart disease, osteoporosis, colon cancer, and other diseases affecting women in general. And all of these can be prevented, or at least caught early, when folks are able to access mammograms, well-woman exams (services Planned Parenthood makes affordable), physicals, and other screenings, all of which are covered under the Affordable Care Act. Mental health care, including evaluation and inpatient treatment, are also often covered, depending on what plan you have. 

The A.C.A. is still in effect, as of this writing. If you are currently getting your health insurance from the A.C.A., get all the health care you can possibly get now, especially if you have a pre-existing condition. See if your gynecologist, primary care physician, psychiatrist and other medical practitioners will write you prescriptions which you can fill now, before you need them (i.e. one that will last for six months, so you can see them only twice a year). 

In addition, we can support each other—sharing resources that enable folks to get the care they need, and that includes stockpiling male and female condoms, Plan B, pregnancy tests, and other reproductive and sexual health supplies that will be necessary if Planned Parenthood is defunded (and are necessary now). Support abortion funds, which help people who need abortion afford them, as well as the costs associated with them. 

And finally, join the fight to keep the A.C.A. If you or your loved ones use it, call your elected officials, tell them what it’s meant for your health, and urge them to defend it. Encourage your friends, family and congregation to do the same, and learn the facts about the A.C.A. and the Republican plan to change it. Stories are a powerful tool, so tell yours. Your health, and the health of millions of others, will depend on it. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Lilith Magazine.