Why should men pay for maternity care? This woman's op-ed nails it.

'It's called democracy, a civil society, the greater good. That's what we pay for.'

At a town hall event in early May 2017, Rep. Rod Blum, an Iowa Republican, raised more than a few eyebrows with his comments on maternity care.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Blum, who recently voted for the American Health Care Act of 2017 ("Trumpcare"), argued it's "crazy" to expect men's health care to overlap with maternity benefits.


“Get rid of some of these crazy regulations that Obamacare puts in, such as a 62-year-old male having to have pregnancy insurance,” he noted to his constituents.

At first thought, Blum's assertion might seem reasonable — why should an older man's health care plan include pregnancy insurance?

But when it comes to health care policy, the devil is in the details.

As New York magazine reported, Obamacare's provision requiring insurers provide maternity care to everyone guaranteed that those companies couldn't discriminate against women (emphasis added):  

"There’s a good reason Obamacare required insurance companies to cover maternity care. Before Obamacare, women who unexpectedly became pregnant would be surprised to find their insurance plans didn’t include maternity care. Then, when they tried to change plans, their insurance would treat their pregnancy as a preexisting condition and deny them coverage. In other words, Obamacare included maternity care as an essential health benefit to keep insurance companies from discriminating against women."

This point wasn't lost on Barbara Rank, a retired teacher and a constituent of Blum's, who responded to his comment with a simple thoughtful argument in a local op-ed.

Rank was there at the town hall where Blum's controversial remarks were met with boos and jeers. And even though she didn't say anything in the crowded high school gym that night, Rank made her two cents known in an op-ed in The Telegraph Herald on May 12, 2017.

As Rank wrote:

"Congressman Rod Blum in a Dubuque town hall (Monday) night asked, 'Why should a 62-year-old man have to pay for maternity care?'

I ask, why should I pay for a bridge I don't cross, a sidewalk I don't walk on, a library book I don't read?

Why should I pay for a flower I won't smell, a park I don't visit, or art I can't appreciate? Why should I pay the salaries of politicians I didn't vote for, a tax cut that doesn't affect me, or a loophole I can't take advantage of?

It's called democracy, a civil society, the greater good. That's what we pay for."





To be clear, Rank does misquote Blum from the town hall in her letter to the editor — as a spokesperson for Blum told The Washington Post, "he was referring to the idea of patients being able to choose health insurance policies that fit their needs, rather than one size fits all policies filled with government mandates."

But Rank's point still holds up. The idea that someone pays for government services or benefits they might not personally need boils down to an important but pretty simple idea that keeps democracy afloat: It's the greater good.

When inequality exists anywhere, it's a problem for all of us. When a kid learns something new in a textbook at school, we all benefit. When a family is able to afford maternity care, we all benefit. As Rank's message puts it so simply, in a democracy, we sink or swim together.

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Andy Grammer, the pop singer and songwriter behind feel-good tunes like "Keep Your Head Up," "Back Home," and "Don't Give Up on Me," has a new album out—and it is seriously fabulous. Titled simply "Naive," Grammer says it's "all about how seeing the good in todays world can feel like a rebellious act."

"I wrote this album for the light bringers," Grammer shared on Facebook. "The people who choose to see the good even in the overwhelming chaos of the bad. The smilers who fight brick by brick to build an authentic smile everyday, even when it seems like an impossible thing to do. For those who have been marginalized as 'sweet' or 'cute' or 'less powerful' for being overly positive. To me optimism is a war to be fought, possibly the most important one. If I am speaking to you and you are relating to it then know I made this album for you. You are my tribe. I love you and I hope it serves you. Don't let the world turn down your shine, we all so badly need it."

Reading that, it's easy to think maybe he really is naive, but Grammer's positivity isn't due to nothing difficult ever happening in his life. His mom, Kathy, died of breast cancer when Grammer was 25. He and his mother were very close, and her life and death had a huge impact on him.

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via Stratford Festival / Twitter

Service dogs are invaluable to their owners because they are able to help in so many different ways.

They're trained to retrieve dropped Items, open and close doors, help their owners remove their clothes, transport medications, navigate busy areas such as airports, provide visual assistance, and even give psychological help.

The service dog trainers at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs in Canada want those who require service dogs to live the fullest life possible, so they're training dogs on how to attend a theatrical performance.

The adorable photos of the dogs made their way to social media where they quickly went viral.

On August 15, a dozen dogs from Golden Retrievers to poodles, were treated to a performance of "Billy Elliott" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. This was a special "relaxed performance" featuring quieter sound effects and lighting, designed for those with sensory issues.

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"It's important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend," Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC.

"The theater gives us the opportunity to expose the dogs to different stimuli such as lights, loud noises, and movement of varying degrees," she continued. "The dogs must remain relaxed in tight quarters for an extended period of time."

The dogs got to enjoy the show from their own seats and took a break with everyone else during intermission. They were able to familiarize themselves with the theater experience so they know how to navigate through crowds and fit into tight bathroom stalls.

via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter

"About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved," says Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager. "I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theater."

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The dogs' great performance at the trial run means that people who require service animals can have the freedom to enjoy special experiences like going to the theater.

"It's wonderful that going to the theater is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theater is out of reach for people who require a service animal, because it isn't," Swerdfager said.

The Stratford Festival runs through Nov. 10 and features productions of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Neverending Story," "Othello," "Billy Elliot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Crucible" and more.

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