The GOP Health Care Bill Would Punish Women For Being Women

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After weeks of secretive planning, Senate Republicans released their health care bill on Thursday — and it's already facing backlash for making significant cuts to Medicaid and financing tax breaks for the wealthy. But with plans to defund Planned Parenthood for a year, restrict abortion access, and do away with requiring insurance companies to cover maternity care and emergency services, critics say the Republican health care bill would leave women's health coverage in shambles.

Known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, one of the bill's most scrutinized provision thus far is its cutting of federal funding to Planned Parenthood for a year — one that is already facing opposition from two female Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine.

Defunding Planned Parenthood would have devastating consequences for women in the United States. One out of five women in America have received assistance from a Planned Parenthood clinic, according to the organization. Contrary to the notion of Planned Parenthood's services among conservatives, the organization isn't limited to providing abortion services. In fact, no federal funding goes to facilitating abortions simply because the Hyde Amendment which doesn't allow it. The majority of funded services utilized by patients center on STD testing, birth control, cancer screenings, breast exams, counseling, family planning, and more.

Slashing the expansion program is one of the salient points in the Senate Republican health care bill. If all goes according to plan, cutting down on Medicaid expansion will commence in 2021. Currently, some 31 states and Washington, D.C. are included within this expansion plan. If the slashing takes effect, some states could drop out of the program instantly, which would severely impact low-income women who rely heavily on the expansion program. For women living in poverty who cannot afford more expensive and less accessible health care plans, the passage of the BCRA would deal a massive blow.

The bill also would not allow any subsidies to be used for abortion services by insurance plans. Low-income pregnant women seeking family planning or abortion will be struggling to find help on either front. In a stunning blow to expecting women, the bill's language does not make it compulsory for insurance companies to cover maternity care. By gutting protections, the bill gives insurance companies the power to hollow essential maternity coverage.

So far, the future of the bill is uncertain with criticism from both conservatives and moderates. As nationwide protests gear up to oppose the bill, women and advocates alike are hoping that the final version of the BCRA, should it pass, will end up without provisions that disproportionately harm women.