Women Who are Victims of Domestic Violence Can Legally Be Denied Health Coverage

Women Who are Victims of Domestic Violence Can Legally Be Denied Health Coverage

In the recent health care hoopla we have been hearing a lot about the trouble with preexisting conditions and the insurance companies that shamelessly deprive people of treatment because they refuse to cover anything that is a preexisting condition from serious health problems to simple acne. But you might not have been aware of the fact that several states allow insurance companies to deny health care coverage to women who are victims of domestic violence by considering domestic violence a preexisting condition.

The states that make it legal for insurance companies to preclude domestic violence victims include Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming according to the Feministe blog . Not surprisingly, the areas that are denying coverage to women who have been abused tend to be strongly Republican based. When Democratic Senator, Patty Muray of Washington tried to pass a bill in 2006 to change this law and protect the rights of battered women, it was voted down by a solid Republican block. They also included pregnancy as a reason for denial as it is a preexisting condition which means that they could be deprived of vital prenatal care putting women and their babies at risk.

Domestic violence is a very serious issue in this country and around the world. According to statistics from the American Institute on Domestic Violence,  over 5.3 million women are victims of domestic violence every single year. There is already a difficult, often deadly, problem of getting women to come forward and seek help when they need it. With laws like this that allow victims to be discriminated against it is making it even more difficult for women to seek the help that they need.

This is not only a sexist and discriminatory practice but it puts the lives and safety of women in jeopardy and furthers the misogynist idea that the victim somehow deserves it or is to blame for being beaten, controlled, and abused by their spouses. It's just an extension of that old unspoken rule that so many people believe in- that it is a man's right to keep “his woman” in line so if she is a victim of domestic violence she must somehow be to blame.

And in the midst of this we have people protesting against care to anyone who is just sitting around watching TV and having kids, as if women in general are simply too lazy to do any “real” work so they just pop out a bunch of kids instead so they can take your hard earned money. (Arguments obviously made by people who have never actually given birth, raised children, or bothered to find out that it is often the hardest working people who do not get health care coverage.)

But this should be raising a troublesome question in the minds of Americans. Why are the Republicans working so hard to deny women's rights and failing to protect women from abusive partners? Is it not time for us to finally evolve past the point of blaming the victim and to take a stand against the insurance agencies and the Republicans who support them and demand important legislation that will protect women's rights.