“Choose Life ” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Adopted by the 104th Annual Convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
Montreal, Quebec, June 1993
Women are short-changed in many aspects of health care, from research and prevention to treatment, access and education. Addressing these inequities is fundamental to women’s rights.
Women need to be included in medical research. Major studies, such as the 1989 study examining aspirin and heart disease, or another involving alcohol and blood pressure, included no women in their sample. Women constitute the fastest growing segment of the population with HIV/AIDS, yet they are often not diagnosed properly because almost all know-ledge of HIV/AIDS is based on studies of men. Physicians urge hormone replacement therapy in order for women to “stay younger,” yet not enough research has been done to allow experts to evaluate the potential risks and benefits.
Women’s health care must be safer. Questions and concerns about products such as the Dalkon Shield and silicone breast implants have raised the need for products to be thoroughly research, tested, and reported on honestly.
Better research and testing are the first step toward better treatment for women, but there are other inequities in the health care women receive. Studies show that doctors are inclined, for instance, to treat heart disease. lung cancer, and kidney problems in women less aggressively than the same problems in men. Moreover, diseases and health concerns that affect women more than men, such as osteoporosis, depression, arthritis, and breast cancer, get less attention in the treatment as well as in the research stage. Women also need better, more affordable access to treatment services. Prevention, an absolutely crucial component in health care, is made infinitely more difficult when patients cannot even afford an examination or diagnostic tests.
Better education about women’s particular health concerns is essential for women’s physical and psychological health. We need education to combat violence against women, the leading cause of injuries In American women; to help prevent sexually transmitted diseases, which, untreated, can cause infertility and, in some cases, death: to confront the national epidemic of eating disorders that has been shamefully ignored.
Despite our cultural obsession with women’s bodies, we are not studying them or caring for them in the ways they need. Our tradition teaches us that life and health are precious. As a Movement, we have consistently advocated universal health care and equality for women, therefore
BE IT RESOLVED, that the Central Conference of American Rabbis:
1. Support passage of legislation such as the omnibus Women’s Health Equity Act which corrects deficiencies in women’s health care, including research, prevention, treatment, and delivery and funding of services, and call for funding of programs which provide greater opportunities for gender specific research in such areas as heart disease in women, arthritis, fertility and infertility, menopause, osteoporosis, eating disorders, chemical dependency and women with HIV/AIDS;
2. Advocate programs which inform the medical establishment of the specific needs of women, including testing and evaluation of pharmaceutical products and procedures on women, and support of medical experts in women’s health care provisions;
3. Reaffirm our support for universal access to health care, including unrestricted access to reproductive services and advice;
4. Continue to address all the issues that affect women’s health, such as pay equity, domestic violence, and reproductive rights.