The Future of Women’s Health is More Important than Politics
On Tuesday, 25 July, the Republican Repeal and Replace healthcare bill officially passed in the United States Senate. For the past seven years, the GOP has fought to repeal Obamacare, the most significant healthcare development and expansion that the United States has seen in decades. And now that this bill has passed, senators will begin to debate the ins and outs of the extremely conservative alternative known as Trumpcare.
Yet, what President Trump and many other Republican senators seem to fail to understand is that repealing Obamacare is nowhere close to a triumph for any American. In fact, the repeal and replace bill will leave 22 million without coverage, of which roughly 52 percent are women. This statistic is quite frankly terrifying — and simply unacceptable.
Since the implementation of Obamacare in 2010, women have had the ability to receive health services such as Pap smears and mammograms at essentially zero cost, insurers have no longer been allowed to charge women more than men for similar services, and contraceptives and maternity care have been readily and cheaply available to the public. Plus, federal funds can be spent at Planned Parenthood, meaning that women with Medicaid coverage can go to Planned Parenthood for basic health services such as wellness screenings, STI/HIV tests, contraceptive provision, and more.
These additions to healthcare coverage provided through Obamacare were huge victories for women in America. Not only was Obamacare unprecedented in its number of resources provided to women, but it also just generally allowed women to receive important and necessary healthcare services without having to worry about paying exorbitant medical bills. The passing and institution of Obamacare in the United States was a sign that our senators and those in public office finally had begun to understand that women are, indeed, equal to men and deserve the same healthcare coverage that men do. It was affirmation that the fight for women’s equality was making progress, and that our demands were being heard.
Replacing Obamacare with Trumpcare would be disastrous for women in the United States. For one, the GOP bill names pregnancy, rape, and domestic violence as “pre-existing conditions” that could possibly prevent women from receiving insurance coverage. For another, neither pregnancy nor vital prenatal care would be covered by the GOP bill. And on top of all this, the bill will ban women under Medicare coverage — which, by the way, the majority of those enrolled under Medicaid are women — from going to Planned Parenthood for basic healthcare needs.
This last point about Trumpcare is particularly striking due to the fact that more than 50 percent of Planned Parenthood’s client base are women who rely on Medicaid. By denying them access to Planned Parenthood services, these clinics will go out of business in low-income areas, where they are often needed the most. Republican senators have long advocated for such weakening of Planned Parenthood clinics due to their abortion services — however, they do not realize that abortions make up only 3 percent of all the crucial, life saving services they provide. Furthermore, the women in these low-income areas tend to be women of color. So on top of already essentially seeming like a war on women, Trumpcare also seems to directly target low-income women of color as its victims.
Looking past the specifics of how the GOP healthcare bill colossally fails women and particularly women of color, it is also important to consider the overarchingly devastating national security impact that Trumpcare would have if implemented. Women hold record numbers in the military and other senior national security jobs, in addition to being key players in sustainable international peacemaking. Given these essential roles that women play in the national security sector, providing adequate services for women’s health is directly related to creating functional national security and ensuring the safety, health, and well-being of our country, not only domestically, but also in the international realm.
Therefore, it makes very little sense that the future of women’s bodies and health is being determined by a group made up solely of white men with extremely dated beliefs about women’s rights. It is outrageous that women must face discrimination like this in 2017, in a world where, apparently, simply being a woman, and especially a woman of color, is considered a “pre-existing condition.”
We cannot accept this injustice. Women and low-income women of color in particular must be the focus of conversations about healthcare. The fact of the matter is that the health of our women is bigger and more important than politics. There is still time to encourage the cancellation of the Repeal and Replace Act. Call your U.S. Senator to stand with Planned Parenthood, healthcare for all, and especially healthcare for women. We must not forget the importance of those who make up 52 percent of the American population. I, for one, do not want to face the reality and consequences of a disastrously unfair and prejudiced healthcare system, and I urge you to join me in taking action against it.
Aradhana Chandra is a Communications Intern at the Truman National Security Project and an International Affairs and International Business student at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Views expressed are her own.