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C-Section Preexisting Condition AHCA

Sorry, Congress, but My C-Section Is Not a "Preexisting Condition"

Dear Congress,

I've been watching with great interest as you attempt to pass the American Health Care Act, which now lies with the Senate after narrowly passing the House. In truth, I don't have Obamacare, instead getting coverage through my husband's employer. But as a freelance writer, I watched many of my friends sign up and have healthcare coverage for the first time. What a gift.

I understand it's not a perfect system, but that's pretty much par for the course with American health care with its difficult-to-navigate referral and billing processes (I paid more for my postmiscarriage outpatient D and C — that's dilation and curettage, for those of you who aren't familiar with the emotionally painful procedure — than I did for my first C-section, hospital stay, and my daughter's five-day stay in the NICU, so obviously, we're dealing with a flawed system). Yet, I feel blessed to have insurance, just as I know my friends who get their insurance through the Affordable Care Act do.

Oh, here's the other thing: we're all women, and we're smart, and we see what you're trying to do with your new bill, and we're not happy.

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This act seems to say that because we're women, who come with the expensive, messy problems of pregnancy and childbirth, we don't deserve the same kind of low-cost coverage as, say, a white male marathon runner who's never had a health problem in his life. We get that the insurance companies would prefer that guy, but that doesn't mean our government should. Actually, it means the exact opposite. You are supposed to be champions for the American people, and half of us happen to have uteruses.

You are supposed to be champions for the American people, and half of us happen to have uteruses.

I am the mother of two children, and I delivered them both by C-section. I guess, if you were a jerk about it, you could call my second Cesarean preexisting, in that my doctor knew that was the safest way for me to deliver my second child and scheduled the surgery well in advance.

But my first C-section? That one came after my water breaking in the middle of the night, 16 long hours of labor, multiple epidurals that didn't work and left me with uncontrollable phantom itching, and a cervix that stopped dilating at 6 centimeters (10 is the magic number, gentlemen).

So, after all that work on my part, my doctor suggested I have a C-section. I cried, not wanting to admit that my body just wasn't doing what it was supposed to do to deliver my baby. Then I relented, and less than 30 minutes later, I had a beautiful, perfect eight-pound daughter. There was no followed birth plan, no preexisting anything, just her, coming into this world in the safest way possible for us both.

I am not alone in my need for a C-section. More than 30 percent of American mothers have had one, because, like me, their labor failed to progress, or because their baby was breech, or their placenta was covering their cervix, or their bodies couldn't handle the stress of labor and delivery. Do these mothers deserve to pay much, much more than they already are to have their babies because of something they couldn't control and wouldn't have chosen? Because no one I know wants to have a painful surgery or a stomach full of staples unless that's the only way they can ensure the health of their babies and themselves. Punishing us by not requiring our insurers to cover that surgery seems, if not criminal, then most definitely immoral.

So, Congress, let's start prioritizing your constituents — even the ones who can bear children — over the insurance companies. We are women, and we vote, so maybe think about protecting our healthcare rights, too.

Sincerely,
American women everywhere

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