The Latest in Greece's Austerity Plan Targets Pregnant Women

Posted on 5.24.2012 by Chantal

BBC News featured an article this week about the latest in Greece's efforts to revive its crumbling economy. Apparently, hospitals are cracking down on patients who can't pay their bills. The article focuses particularly on pregnant women, at least one of whom reports being told she may not be able to take her baby home from the hospital, if she couldn't pay the bill up front.

Anna lives in a tiny shack with a concrete floor and crumbling walls in Loutsa, a coastal town about an hour's drive from the capital. The entire household, including her husband, father and brother are all dependent on the meagre earnings her mother makes cleaning houses.

The family, who were all employed until the crisis hit, say they have run out of savings and are behind on their rent. Their landlord has given them until the end of the month to move out.

Anna says she doesn't know how she will manage to pay for the baby's vaccinations.

"The hospital asked us for a lot of money and the man at the administration office told us we had to pay the whole amount or they would not let the baby leave the hospital with me," she says.

The hospital, of course, denies Anna's claims. Yet at least one other new mother and a doctor at the hospital in question recounted similar experiences. I have always been a firm believer that health care is a human right. A right that everyone on this planet deserves regardless of socioeconomic status or anything else, for that matter. But as global economies and the machinery of capitalism disintegrates, how do we protect these rights? How do we fight the insurance system as whole, a system which profits off our illnesses and leaves the uninsured (a growing number of people these days) saddled with debt?