BRCA Choices Not Affordable for Many US Women

Roxanne Nelson

May 23, 2013

In This Article

Angelina Jolie's public announcement of her decision to undergo a double prophylactic mastectomy after learning she was positive for a mutation in the BRCA1 gene has certainly put genetic testing squarely into the limelight.

However, her story has also caused a ripple of backlash across the Internet, exposing the realities of many US women who have little choice on the issue, especially if they do not have the health insurance, the money, or the means to undertake a series of extended medical procedures.

Several posts have expressed sadness, anger, and resentment over the media storm surrounding Jolie. Although people appreciate the difficulty of making such a decision and the courage of going so public with it, they also bring attention to the other side of the story.

"The bigger issue is that many women in America simply cannot afford to be sick," says one blogger, writing in Salon.com. "The issue of affordability has been swept under the carpet. The media has instantly polarized the debate in terms of women who may or may not entreat medical intervention. "

In a commentary published in the LA Times, writer Robin Abcarian notes, "Unlike Jolie, most people do not live in a world where cost, even to save one's life, is no object." She commends Jolie for sharing her story, adding, "It would be a lovely thing if everyone had access to the high level of care she has received."

Some of the articles took a stronger and more acrid tone. A teacher in New Jersey, also with a strong family history of cancer, reported that Jolie's account "upset me."

"That's good for her; she's got the best health care and she's got money. She doesn't have to worry about taking off of work. She doesn't have to worry about taking care of her family, cooking or cleaning — the things that the normal woman would have to do," she wrote.

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