Literally everyone benefits from quality maternity and pediatric care.

Aside from the arguments in favor of universal health care in general, there is an important reason why coverage of prenatal, maternity, newborn, and pediatric care should be mandatory and comprehensive.

It’s not just that we were all gestated and born at one point. That’s valid, but it’s bigger than that.

A society depends on the production of new human beings. That much is surely beyond dispute? Additionally, older people depend on the labor of younger people. There are people being gestated and born right now, whose labor will make our quality of life possible later.

This idea of “I’m an older man, so I don’t need maternity care”? Bullshit. You need other people to have maternity and pediatric care. The older you get, the more your life depends on healthy, hard-working young people. Who picks up your garbage? Who drives the bus you take to your appointments? Who tends the crops you eat? Who drives the ambulance when you have a medical emergency? When you go out to eat, who prepares your meal, and who brings it to the table? When you’re at the hospital, who treats you? Who changes your IV? When you reach the stage of life where you’re frail and feeble and can’t take care of yourself anymore, who keeps you alive and comfortable? (Last time I visited my grandmother at the nursing home, the answer was: younger women from west Africa and the Caribbean. We’re benefitting from immigrant labor as well pregnant women having healthcare.) 

Prenatal and maternity care ensure that children are born alive and have healthy mothers to raise them. Newborn and pediatric care ensure that those children reach adulthood in optimal health. We need a new generation of functioning adults to ensure that older people have a decent quality of life and don’t die prematurely of preventable causes. For that, we need medical care for pregnant and birthing people, for new babies, and young children, regardless of their income bracket. That heavily pregnant young woman using WIC to pay for her groceries? Some day, her child will keep you alive.

The lives of older men depend on the availability of maternity care.