Sunday, November 1, 2009

prenatal care

I've been lucky. I rarely visit the doctor for anything more than preventative care, and have seen the inside of an emergency room on few occasions. I historically get little more than a cold a year, and can't remember the last time I called in sick - it's been years. When I found out I was pregnant this last August, things changed. Standard prenatal care includes monthly visits to the doctor where blood is drawn and weight gain is noted. And, because of my "advanced age" - yes my dear friends this is the terminology used to describe women in their thirties and forties pregnant for the first time - there is a whole set of diagnostic tests that are ran on both me and my little one. And I thank God for my good blessings. Not only have we both remained healthy, but I'm on an insurance plan that, for the most part, is supporting the proactive care required for a safe pregnancy and delivery.

But my good prenatal care shouldn't be the result of God's good blessings - or by the fact that I am a city employee and a member of a strong union. It should be the norm. Health care should be a right not a privilege. But, according to the Children's Defense Fund (http://www.childrensdefense.org/), 800,000 pregnant women are uninsured. And 28,000 children die each year before their first birthday. This ranks the US 25th in infant mortality among 30 industrialized nations.

Mahatma Gandhi said, "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." If we fail our pregnant women, those responsible for bringing such vulnerable little creatures into the world, then we fail as a nation. Meaning our president fails, our system fails, our citizens fail. Period.

I don't know what the answer is, only that we can do better.

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