Koch-backed conservatives go pro-cervical cancer

The right's campaign to convince young people to remain uninsured rather than enroll in Obamacare hits a new low

Published September 19, 2013 8:00PM (EDT)

David Koch                 (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)
David Koch (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)

I've written a few articles now on the conservative movement's inexcusable campaign to convince young people to remain uninsured rather than enroll in Obamacare.

That campaign reached a new nadir this morning, with financial assistance from Charles and David Koch, who as you probably know are famously concerned with your health and economic security. You might have seen the ads already, because they've already gone viral, but in case you haven't, here's the one that plumbs the limits of decency.

I've done a fair amount of reporting on the links between uninsurance and both economic security and mortality. One of the big things that makes uninsured women more likely to go bankrupt or die is they're likelier to skip annual Pap smears and, thus, miss early indications of cervical cancer.

Here's what Stan Dorn of of the Urban Institute told me last year: "We know that women with cervical cancer who are uninsured get their cancer detected later ... and sometimes die."

This ad, part of a six-figure campaign, says young women without means would be better off skipping Pap smears than enrolling in Obamacare … which is one of the most dangerous possible reasons to skip Obamacare.

I can only speculate, but I've gotta imagine that if you're a young woman who goes to the gynecologist regularly, you're doing it because you know it's important for your health, not because you love getting a Pap smear. So the good news is I doubt this will do much more than offend a bunch of people who aren't already conservative hard-liners, predisposed to cutting out their cervices to spite their president. But I have to wonder what these people's consciences say to them about the possibility that dozens or hundreds of women across the country will follow their advice and then get a horrible diagnosis after it's too late.

By Brian Beutler

Brian Beutler is Salon's political writer. Email him at bbeutler@salon.com and follow him on Twitter at @brianbeutler.

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Affordable Care Act Conservatives Defund Obamacare Koch Brothers Obamacare Pap Smear Video