Our reproductive rights dodged a bullet with the Graham-Cassidy Bill’s defeat
In sticking with historical standards, two older white men with political power recently took it upon themselves to dangerously influence millions of women’s lives. Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy recently proposed the Graham-Cassidy health care bill: an Obamacare repeal bill. But on September 25 during a town hall about the bill, which paired Graham and Cassidy against Democratic Senators Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar, an audience member’s confrontation highlighted just how dangerous this bill could have been.
“I’m grateful for Planned Parenthood,” a town hall attendee stated, “because without their care it’s quite probable that my husband and I would not have been able to become parents.” A health care provider at Planned Parenthood found cysts and benign tumors in and on her ovaries, this woman explained. She then asked the senators why they would advocate for a bill that “would block women like me from the essential care that helped me become a mother.”
Senator Cassidy responded first. He was comfortable defunding Planned Parenthood, he stated, because most of their facilities are in “urban areas” that have “lots of OB-GYNs.” He continued by explaining that it would make more sense to funnel funding into rural areas to “bring health care to the person as opposed to making the person come to the health care.” Even overlooking the fact that comparing “urban” and “rural” areas has an undeniable racist undertone, Cassidy’s argument — that defunding Planned Parenthood in urban areas because rural areas don’t have enough OB-GYNs — is illogical. This also unfairly reduces the array of services that Planned Parenthood facilities provide and greatly underestimates the volume of people Planned Parenthoods help.
Sen. Graham then responded by resorting to the fallacies conservatives often spread about Planned Parenthood. He talked about the controversial videos that circulated in 2015 that attacked Planned Parenthood by insinuating they sold fetal matter. Although these videos were definitively debunked as false, Graham said that “Americans were pretty upset when they saw the videos of selling body parts of aborted children.” Referencing this blatantly false information about one of the biggest health care providers for women in this nation was both willfully ignorant and cruel, not to mention a testament to what little substantive thought had gone into the bill he represented.
Birth control was also a topic of contention during the town hall. While Cassidy claimed that the Graham-Cassidy bill would allow birth control pills to be sold over the counter so that, according to Cassidy, “you’ve got the power,” his statement failed to take into account that the Graham-Cassidy bill — in opposition to the Affordable Care Act’s free provision of birth control — would force women to pay for that so-called readily available contraception out of their own pockets. This, of course, means that only certain, privileged women would have the ability to obtain contraception. What’s more, while this provision wasn’t addressed at the town hall, the bill would also waive a requirement that maternity care be covered on individual plans and, as The Atlantic put it, women “who deliver via C-section or who have even simply been pregnant in the past might face higher insurance rates for life.”
Luckily, the Graham-Cassidy bill is dead: In late September Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he would not bring the bill to a vote. But this bill represents yet another frightening chapter in a broader agenda to unrelentingly curb American women’s rights to their own bodies. In fact, despite this bill’s death, just last week the Trump administration made it easier to deny women access to birth control. While frustrating and dangerous, these constant attacks on women’s bodily autonomy provide all the more reason to support facilities like Planned Parenthood — we must solidify their stability and funding to ensure women across the country have safe options no matter how much elected officials oppose them.
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