“If you love women, and you love your mothers and daughters and wives—please do not unwind the Affordable Care Act”
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Despite the fact that President Obama has another week left in office, Senate Republicans are rushing to dismantle his most influential piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act. On Thursday, GOP senators approved a budget proposal that, if passed, would allow them to tear apart the ACA without fear of Democratic retaliation, The New York Times reports. According to the proposal, congressional committees would have to write legislation to repeal the ACA by January 27. With a vote of 51 to 48, the decision fell squarely along party lines, prompting Democrats to protest Republicans’ actions and voice frustration with the alarming possibility of depriving millions of Americans of health care coverage.
Before the vote took place, Washington Senator Maria Cantwell expressed her concern that by dismantling Obamacare, Republicans were “stealing health care from Americans.” New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand gave a passionate speech in defense of the ACA, highlighting the specific ways it protects women from being categorically disenfranchised. Gillibrand said,
“(The Affordable Care Act) said to women of America, 'You can't be charged more just because you're a woman.' It said, 'You can't be dropped coverage when you become pregnant.’ Imagine becoming pregnant and having your insurer drop coverage because you are no longer economic or you cost too much money. Imagine being a cancer survivor and then having your coverage dropped because you survived cancer, and you cost too much money.
We made sure contraception, preventive care service, health care screenings, mammograms were affordable and accessible, and if we take that away, these families are left without the basic care they need to survive. So if you love women, and you love your mothers and daughters and wives—please do not unwind the Affordable Care Act. We need women's health protected, and that's what this amendment does.”
With Republicans aiming to defund Planned Parenthood, rescind birth control coverage, and deny treatment to women who’ve had abortions, the United States is on track to become the unhealthiest developed country in the world. It’s also worth noting that, according to the Population Institute, the United States has an overall D rating in reproductive health care, sliding further from the D+ rating it received in 2015. Texas, for instance, saw its maternal death rate skyrocket after (white male) officials slashed funding for reproductive health care clinics.
Women shouldn’t have to explain why their health care matters as much as anyone else’s, but now that Senate Republicans are actively working to endanger women’s lives, it seems the fight for equal treatment has just begun.