Women’s lives should not be valued in dollars and cents

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By Adele E. Zimmerman

There is one glaring error in a recent editorial cartoon by Trevor. He shows two women (out of five members) on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. In reality, only one of the 10 members is female.

This may account for the cavalier attitude of the task force recommendation that regular mammograms for women between the ages of 40 and 49 be discontinued. It appears that fewer lives are saved in this age group than in women over 50 whose breast cancer is diagnosed through regular mammography. They also recommend mammograms only every two years for the older group.

One of their primary concerns seems to be the relatively high cost of testing per life saved for younger women and money wasted on unnecessary biopsies. They also cried a few crocodile tears over any anxiety women may experience from false positives.

I recently watched a close friend die of breast cancer that was not diagnosed until it had spread to her bones. Then it went to her brain. Take it from me. This is not a disease to be treated as a statistic.

While the recommendations of this task force may not be the last word in diagnosing breast cancer, it is a reaffirmation that women’s lives are valued more in dollars and cents than in human worth. It is certain that health insurance will jump on this report and attempt to curtail funding for annual mammograms, thus adding to the tens of thousands of Americans who die each year from lack of insurance or from denial of funding for procedures by their insurance providers.

Congratulations to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, for immediately recommending no change in the proven lifesaving practice of annual mammograms for women over 40.

Adele E. Zimmermann