After intense backlash over her comments about health care during the Miss USA pageant, newly crowned nuclear chemist Kara McCullough went on Good Morning America to “clarify” her controversial comments afterward, now insisting that health care “should be a right” for all.
“I am privileged to have health care and I do believe that it should be a right,” the 25-year-old said Tuesday. “I hope and pray moving forward that health care is a right for all worldwide.”
McCullough, who works with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, was crowned Miss USA 2017 on Sunday night, but not without receiving some chatter for her comments not only on health care but also on feminism.
When asked if affordable health care is a right or a privilege, McCullough responded: “As a government employee, I am granted health care and I see firsthand that for one to have health care, you need to have jobs. So therefore, we need to continue to cultivate this environment [so] that we’re given the opportunity to have health care as well as jobs [for] all the American citizens worldwide.”
When asked if she considered herself a feminist, she responded, “I don’t want to call myself a feminist. ... Women, we are just as equal as men, especially in the workplace,” adding that she would like to “transpose” the term from “feminism” to “equalism.”
At any rate, McCullough told GMA that she was “not at all” surprised by the backlash she stirred.
“I believe that is what America is based on, like having opinions and views,” she said. “But I would like to just take this moment to truly just clarify ... what I said.
“I just want people to see where I’m coming from,” she added. “Having a job, I have to look at health care like it is a privilege.”
McCullough also clarified her statement on equalism vs. feminism.
“For me, where I work at with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ‘equalism’ is more of a term of understanding that no matter your gender, you are still just kind of given the same accolades on your work,” McCullough said. “I believe that if a person does a good job, they should be, you know, credited for that in a sense.
“I don’t want anyone to look at it as if I’m not all about women’s rights because I am,” she added. “We deserve a lot when it comes to opportunity in the workplace as well as just like leadership positions. I’ve seen and witnessed firsthand the impact that women have.”
Despite the uproar, Miss USA is looking forward to her yearlong reign, setting her sights on advocating for STEM—or science, technology, engineering and mathematics—enrichment for children and continuing her work on her outreach program, Science Exploration for Kids.
“I just want children to find joy in science at a young age and not look at it like it’s difficult,” McCullough said. “I’m hoping to visit schools, do science projects, maybe do symposiums with high school students, encourage them to look at career fields in science, technology, engineering and math.”