Failure to Repeal Obamacare Called Victory for Reproductive Rights

Critics say the Graham-Cassidy bill would have severely restricted reproductive rights. Photo Credit: Jordan Uhl, Flickr

Andrea Sears
Public News Service

WASHINGTON – Pro-choice advocates celebrated Tuesday when the Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate canceled a scheduled vote on the latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., conceded defeat when it became clear that three fellow Republicans would oppose the bill.

Some estimates have said as many as 32 million Americans would have lost their health insurance under the bill. According to Kaylie Hanson Long, national communications director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, it would have imposed severe restrictions on reproductive rights.

“Allowing states to waive birth-control coverage, really restrict abortion coverage,” she said. “What’s really offensive too is, the whole time, they have been talking about passing a bill that really slashes maternity care.”

Republicans have called the Affordable Care Act a disaster with increasingly unaffordable premiums, dwindling choices for consumers and exorbitant costs. Failure of the latest repeal effort is likely to restart a bipartisan effort to improve the ACA, and Long said there is another option on the table: Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All bill, which would cover abortion services.

“That would have the impact of repealing the Hyde Amendment,” she said, “which does nothing but prevent low-income women from receiving the same kind of health care that their wealthier peers can access.”

The bill touted by Sanders, I-Vt., would create a national, single-payer health-care system, replacing most private health insurance.

President Trump, who made repeal of the ACA a central theme of his election campaign, expressed his disappointment that the effort has failed again. Long stressed that the fight is far from over.

“This won’t be their last attempt. They’re going to continue to try to chip away at the law in whatever way they can,” she said. “But that’s why we all need to stay on our toes and keep up these resistance efforts.”

Republicans have said they will renew their repeal efforts after they have resolved the issue of tax reform.