On Thursday, the GOP's American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed in a House of Representatives vote. The bill would dismantle much of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with a plan that seems to promise coverage to fewer Americans. Before it becomes law, the conservative health care plan will have to overcome debate in the Senate, as well as the work of several feminist advocates who oppose the AHCA.
It's no surprise that opposing the AHCA has become a feminist issue. Although it's unclear what the specific impacts of the Republicans' health care plan will be on the American public, it seems certain that the policy change will have a negative effect on women's access to health care. For one, the AHCA could threaten Planned Parenthood funding and reduce coverage for birth control. For another, it could allow insurance companies to jack up premiums for women with common menstrual irregularities, among other pre-existing conditions.
With negative impacts expected for the women who make up more than half of the American population — not to mention the potential consequences for low-income, sick, or elderly Americans — the AHCA has a devoted group of loud critics. Those critics include some of the most recognizable and most vocal feminists of the day. Using their votes, their platforms, and their other resources, these feminist champions won't give up after Thursday's House vote.
1. Kirsten Gillibrand
I'll fight back as hard as I can to defeat this bill—a misguided and purely political effort that will hurt New York families.— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) May 4, 2017
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand represents New York in the Senate, which has yet to vote on the AHCA. Assuming she votes against the bill, she'll also represent American women in all 50 states.
2. Kamala Harris
Our fight is far from over. A majority of Americans oppose this catastrophic health care repeal & we WILL work to stop it in the Senate.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 4, 2017
At the Women's March on Washington, Sen. Kamala Harris of California loudly stood up for women at the start of Trump's administration. Now, she's standing up for women's health care. It seems clear where her vote will go when AHCA heads to the Senate.
3. Greg Hogben
Remember the days when 'Women and children first' didn't mean they were the ones to suffer the most?#AHCA— Greg Hogben (@MyDaughtersArmy) May 4, 2017
An accomplished author with a passion for women's rights, Greg Hogben stayed on message after the House vote on Thursday. Hogben's My Daughter's Army takes readers on the journey of a young woman fighting for women's rights. Although it's a work of fiction, Hogben does campaign, in part, on behalf of his own young daughter. Here's hoping activism can help change the message of the GOP.
4. Brittany Packnett
It's time to call our senators. It's time to show up at their offices in droves.— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) May 4, 2017
Our health is too important. #AHCA
A Teach for America leader and all-around activist, Brittany Packnett rose to prominence for the Black Lives Matter protests after incidents like the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. She's widely known for using her voice to organize others. In fact, she even co-founded Campaign Zero, an organization that puts forth policy recommendations for curbing police brutality and encourages followers to get involved in the advocacy. After Thursday's vote, American women need leaders who will organize others on their behalf.
5. Cecile Richards
Women's health experts in action. pic.twitter.com/aZl24AqJgx— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) May 4, 2017
Planned Parenthood stands to lose a significant amount of funding if the AHCA becomes law. Fortunately, its president, Cecile Richards, is rarely silent when it comes to women's issues. In response to the AHCA, Richards on Thursday called the bill "the worst bill for women in a generation."
6. Bernie Sanders
We are not going back to the days where being a woman was a pre-existing condition for which insurance companies could charge extra.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 4, 2017
If Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had his way, he'd be making decisions from the Oval Office. Come the Senate vote on AHCA, though, the bill's opponents will be happy to have Sanders in Congress.
7. Linda Sarsour
We must organize like people's lives depend on it because people's lives depend on it. We must ensure Senate doesn't vote for #AHCA.— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) May 4, 2017
As a co-chair of the Women's March on Washington, Linda Sarsour knows a thing or two about leading feminist movements. Even before her time with the Women's March, Sarsour grew up as an activist, organizing coalitions from her youth to find support for Muslims within the public school system. Don't be surprised if a new march aimed at the AHCA soon takes protesters to the Senate.
8. Amy Siskind
Amy Siskind founded The New Agenda to give a voice to all women. During the most recent presidential election, she fiercely supported fellow feminist Hillary Clinton, and she has worked closely with college campuses to raise awareness for the crisis of sexual assault. It's only fitting that she uses that voice when Congress tries to pass a health care plan that doesn't provide coverage to all Americans and also considers sexual assault a pre-existing condition.
9. Elizabeth Warren
When the AHCA comes up for a vote in the Senate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts will be there. But it's not just her vote that matters — it's the grassroots work of all Americans who are opposed to the bill. In the words of Warren, "Are you ready to fight for women's health care?"
Ultimately, it's going to take more than these nine powerhouses to stop the AHCA from becoming the law of the land. As the House-approved bill heads to the Senate, there's an opportunity for constituents to pressure their senators and for women to stand up for other women. The AHCA is one step closer to finalization, but there's a long road ahead that could change the face of women's health care in this country.