While You Were Sleeping

While you were sleeping, a dramatic series of events took place last night—and early this morning—on the Senate floor that decided the fate (at least for now) of the debate to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The ACA changed the landscape for women’s health, including by ensuring that women could not be charged more for health insurance than men—simply for being women.  So, the fate of the ACA has significant implications for women. 
You have probably found some pretty good overviews of last night’s/this morning’s events, but here are a few key ways that women showed up and showed out last night and over the last few months to preserve the ACA and its wins for women’s health: 

  1. The phenomenal women in the Senate, including Senator Murkowski and Senator Collins who never waivered in their opposition to the ACA repeal attempts, despite significant party pressure.  Senator Hirono whose impassioned plea for compassion and understanding moved us all.
  2. The phenomenal women advocates who fought to save Medicaid! Since women comprise the majority of adults enrolled in Medicaid and the program provides critical services, particularly for women struggling to make ends meet, ensuring continued access to the program is vital for women’s health.  The existence of Medicaid could mean the difference between women accessing needed preventive care or suffering the effects of preventable conditions. And, we know that many invoked harmful racial stereotypes to garner support for proposals that would have devastated the program.  That’s why NWLC joined with In Our Own Voice, the Black Women’s Health Imperative, and one hundred and thirteen of our other closes allies in crafting a letter to senators urging them to oppose such harmful proposals to destroy Medicaid based on racial stereotypes of women of color enrolled in the program. 
  3. The phenomenal women providers who voiced their concerns about the devastating consequences that ACA repeal could have, not only for their health, but the health of the patients that they serve. And let’s not forget that programs like Medicaid support women’s jobs, including nurses and home caregivers.   
  4. The phenomenal women patients who rallied and exposed thinly-veiled attempts to target Planned Parenthood providers.  Proposals to bar federal funding to Planned Parenthood, coupled with attempts to repeal the ACA, were designed to further devastate women’s access to vital reproductive health care, particularly women in underserved areas.  
  5. The phenomenal women with health conditions, including those with pre-existing conditionslike survivors of sexual assault—who bravely told their stories and raised their voices for those who could not. 

And let’s not leave you out—you—the mothers, the sisters, the teachers, the students, the professors, and the advocates who called your senators, trekked to the Hill, went to rallies, shared on social media, and stood strong.  While the work to preserve and improve access to women’s health care may be far from over, we can all be proud of the women whose voices made a difference today.