Of course, the current system can be improved to address these problems without a government take-over. Policymakers could change tax laws to make individual health insurance policies more affordable and to help decouple health insurance from employment status. Reducing regulations so that women could buy insurance policies from any state would also drive down prices and make insurance more affordable. Government could even create tax credits to offset the cost of buying health insurance for those who truly can't afford to buy it on their own.
Feminists, however, should take a step back from this empirical policy discussion and consider a larger question: Is the push for bigger government and fully socialized medicine really consistent with women's independence and equality? And isn't that what feminism was supposed to be about in the first place?
Early feminists wrote about the importance of freeing women from dependence on others and the benefits of self-reliance. As feminist founding mother Susan B. Anthony explained in 1869: “There is not the woman born who desires to eat the bread of dependence, no matter whether it be from the hand of father, husband, or brother; for anyone who does so eat her bread places herself in the power of the person from whom she takes it.” In addition to father, husband, and brother, Anthony could have included government on that list, because the principle is the same.
Her feminist predecessor, Mary Wollstonecraft, writing in 1792, linked self-reliance with self-actualization: “How can a rational being be ennobled by anything that is not obtained by its own exertions?” She also wrote, “If women be educated for dependence; that is, to act according to the will of another fallible being, and submit, right or wrong, to power, where are we to stop?” Feminist icon Cady Stanton agreed: “Nothing strengthens the judgment and quickens the conscience like individual responsibility.”
Today's feminists focus on growing government to provide subsidies for women—essentially replacing the role that fathers and husbands once played in women's lives with big government. That's not really independence.
This consideration tends to be lost when debating how to change our already Leviathan government's role in health care. Yet it should be clear that moving toward near total government control of this most personal aspect of life wouldn't be a victory for feminism, but a violation of its fundamental principles.