While you were sleeping, the Senate boogeymen took their first big step towards their goal of full-scale repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and towards taking away the health insurance of millions of Americans. And towards robbing you of your right to free birth control.
The Senate passed a budget blueprint, 51 votes to 48, that will allow Republicans to gut the health care law, with still no clear replacement in sight. While last night’s measure is only the first step in a multi-stage repeal process, last night was actually a major win for the GOP, which managed to maintain enough party unity to pass the budget, despite hopes that a number of Republicans were going to refuse to support repeal measures without simultaneous replacement ones.
Republican senators also made it abundantly, terrifyingly clear last night that there will be no leeway for any of Obamacare's important, popular provisions. There were 17 amendments brought in an attempt to salvage particular elements, all of which were defeated.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spoke passionately of the important changes the Affordable Care Act had made in the lives of women specifically, such as preventing women from being charged more on the basis of their gender, ensuring women can access birth control and mammograms without a copay, and preventing pregnancy from being treated as a preexisting condition to raise women’s premiums or deny them coverage.
Gillibrand pushed for amendments that would protect those provisions, appealing to what she mistook for the Republican senators’ hearts.
"If you love your mothers and daughters and wives, please do not unwind the ACA,” she pleaded. “We need women's health protected."
Watch her speech for yourself here.
With her amendments defeated, millions of low-income American women will struggle to afford contraception, mammograms, and prenatal care. Although the new Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price doesn’t think it'll be a problem: in 2012 the out of touch, anti-ACA Republican suggested all women can afford birth control. Fuck you, Tom Price, no they can't. And taking away their access to preventative measures sure isn't going to help to lower the rate of abortions you hate so much.
There’s some okay news for those in blue states, with moves already underway to protect women’s right to free birth control in multiple state legislatures, regardless of what the federal government decides to do.
But with a government hellbent on de-funding Planned Parenthood and taking away women's free access to important health and reproductive services via the ACA, it's looking dire for women's health in this new "Great" America Trump promised us.
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