Koch Brothers group to discourage women from getting cancer detecting test

With the health care marketplaces slated to open on October 1, one group of opponents is trying to discourage young people from getting insurance.

Besides the effort to burn “Obamacards” — which actually aren’t issued by the federal government, so folks have to print them out from the opponents’ web site before setting them alight — there are plans for a twenty campus tour to discourage students from signing up.

Given that virtually every college requires that students get health insurance and many, due to an ACA requirement, will get it through their parents’ insurance, this whole thing seems odd.

Even odder and morally suspect is an advertising campaign that, if successful, will discourage women from getting pap smears. That test can catch cervical cancer early and so saves lives.

[Dr. Mark] Einstein noted that cervical cancer used to be the No. 1 cancer killer of women in the early 20th century, but that after the adoption of widespread measures that today also include testing for human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection responsible for the vast majority of cervical malignancies, as well as HPV vaccination, “cervical cancer does not even make the top 10 prevalent cancers in U.S. women anymore.”

However, he said, “In the United States, more than half of women who get cervical cancer have never been screened or have been under-screened.” [Source]

This ad shows what the group dubs “Creepy Uncle Sam” popping up in an exam room with a young woman.

Another strange aspect of the ad is that some opponents of Obamacare have backed state policies requiring transvaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions. In the real world, those are far more intrusive to women than having pap smears included in a health plan bought in the health insurance marketplace.

Political scientist Jonathan Bernstein argues these ads are a scam, intended to raise money, and that the operatives running the campaign see them as such.

And perhaps that is part of what’s going on here. But if the ads successfully discourage even one woman from having an exam that could have caught a case of cervical cancer, they will have been far more consequential.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.