A Conversation With My Mother About Women’s Healthcare

The other day I was having lunch with my 87 year old mother at her favorite Thai restaurant and as usual, we were reviewing the state of affairs of relatives and friends.  When we got to her 86 year old friend Mary, a retired (at 80) pediatric endocrinologist, my mother became very animated.  She proceeded to describe their last lunch conversation.

My mother told me, both of them were appalled at what the politicians were trying to do to women and their healthcare.  She  remembers how women struggled through all the years of having no say in their care, birth control didn’t exist and prenatal testing was limited.

Her friend, Mary, was even more upset by the idea that employers could have a say in payment for amniocentesis.  She remembers before this procedure, how prenatal thyroid problems went undetected.  These children were born severely mentally handicapped and doomed to an institutional life.  When testing became available through amniocentesis, the problem was solved with medication.  My mother said she had tears in her eyes when she thought women may be subjected to this horror again.  She went on to ask, “How can this be political?”

My mother asked me if I had seen the picture of the six men testifying at the congressional hearing .  She proceeded to give me her most indignant voice and asked “why were their no women present?  I think these men want us back in the kitchen with our aprons on having babies!  Who do they think they are?”

I was tickled by mother’s reaction because she has always been very New England moderate in her approach to anything political.  It is not say she doesn’t have opinions but rarely is there such feeling expressed.  So I decided to dig deeper and find out why this had pushed her buttons.

She felt the politicians were saying their interpretation of Christianity was the right one.  She was upset because my mother  is a very devoted Christian woman.  She has been a member of an Episcopalian women’s society for over thirty years.  She volunteered in the soup kitchens from the 60s until my father died.  My parents started John’s Mobile Meals, to provide food for the home bound in their local town.  And these men were telling her about healthcare and imposing on her what a Christian was!  How dare they!

My mother is not going to vote for anyone tells her what being a Christian means or that women can’t have a say in their healthcare decision making.  I am sure she is not alone.