Early Thursday morning, Senate Republicans took the first big step towards dismantling Obamacare. If the Affordable Care Act were repealed, millions of women stand to lose coverage for basic reproductive services such as birth control coverage, mammograms and HPV testing, among a long list of other health services.
Before the measure went to a vote, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand addressed the Senate floor urging her colleagues to support the amendment to the measure she proposed this past Tuesday. The amendment was meant to ensure women’s health services under the Affordable Care Act would remain in place even if the ACA were repealed. Gillibrand explained exactly why this amendment is so integral to women’s health and well-being.
“[The Affordable Care Act] said to women of America ‘You can’t be charged more just because you’re a woman,’” the New York Senator said. “Imagine becoming pregnant and having your insurer drop your coverage because you are no longer economic or you cost too much money. Imagine being a cancer survivor and having your coverage dropped because you survived cancer and you cost too much money.”
Watch Gillibrand’s full speech below.
Under the Affordable Care Act, contraception, mammograms and preventive care services were affordable and accessible. If the ACA is repealed, Gillibrand said, “families are left without the basic care they need to survive.”
Gillibrand ended her speech on a powerful note, addressing her fellow senators directly: “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.”
During the vote later that night, each Democratic Senator explained why she or he was voting against the repeal (although most of their explanations were drowned out by the gavel).
“Because health care shouldn’t be just for the healthy and wealthy ― I vote no,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal said. Sen. Elizabeth Warren also opposed the repeal, shouting over the gavel: “On behalf of the Republicans and Democrats who worked for a decade in Massachusetts to bring health care to 97 percent of our people, I vote no.”