Thoracic Jurisprudence

Large breasts are not a malady: that’s what we literally read as the headline of an on-line Der Spiegel article. (Yes, of another article from Der Spiegel; what we have here again is the dreaded serendipity effect, where I just happened to chance upon yet another interesting on-line article – it helps a lot when their headlines/links have particularly eye-catching language – as I originally zeroed-in on the Somali pirates piece that is the subject of the blogpost above.)

Well, who ever said that they were? Certainly no man, that’s for sure. But that’s not the point here; that headline would have been better phrased as “Large breasts are not an official malady,” that is, are not what a given nation’s national health system recognizes as something that it should step in to fix without charging the (unfortunate?) carrier of same. Here it is the German national health system that we’re talking about, of course, and Der Spiegel is simply passing along word of a decision from the Social Court of the German state Hesse that, if a certain anonymous woman (born in 1971) wants to go under the knife to have the size of her breasts reduced, she’s going to have to pay for it herself.

This woman, from the district around the city of Kassel, had appealed to the court the refusal of her local health system (in German: Krankenkasse) to help her solve her breast problem, despite her doctor’s recommendation for such an operation, as she claimed that they caused her not only psychic but also orthopedic problems, namely for her back. The German edition of Playboy should not really be hustling off to get her telephone number, though (nor anyone else, really), because the court’s argumentation upholding the Krankenkasse’s refusal centered on the fact that the woman in question was already overweight; her breasts were really rather consistent (German: stimmig) with her overall proportions, so that any alleged physical problems could hardly be solely laid upon them. (Figuratively speaking, of course.) As for the psychic problems, the court ruled, she could just get counselling. The article does not state whether the Krankenkasse was expected to pay for that.

Still, as the article briefly alludes, the court left open the possibility that large breasts could be regarded as a legitimate official malady in other cases where there is a greater contrast between a woman’s bust and her dimensions otherwise – cases which often actually would send Playboy’s scouts down their firepoles and scurrying to investigate, one can imagine.

By the way, in case you were wondering, the article also reports that the same court also has the opposite case covered already, i.e. breasts that are “too small.” Sure enough, two-and-a-half years ago another woman petitioned the court to have her breast-enhancing operation paid for by the Krankenkasse; she also claimed to be suffering from psychic ailments, arising from her self-perceived shortfall. “Not an [official] malady,” the court ruled.

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