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Reproductive rights

While much of America slept, the Senate voted against keeping health care coverage for contraception

By WITW Staff on January 12, 2017

In the very wee hours on Thursday morning, as much of America slumbered, the U.S. senate was awake and voting on the first major step toward repealing The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In a 51-48 outcome that ended at about 1:30 a.m., the Senate voted on a budget blueprint that will allow for the dismantling of the health care law with the passage of a future bill. The voting was almost entirely split along party lines — just one Republican, Rand Paul of Kentucky, voted with Democrats, who staged an unusual protest as they each logged their votes.

Despite Republican senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, the session’s presiding officer, banging his gavel and saying “debate is not allowed during a vote,” Democratic senators preceded their votes with remarks like Elizabeth Warren’s declaration that “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!”

The protest came after Democrats introduced a series of measures aimed at protecting certain aspects of Obamacare, such as maintaining coverage for contraception. Otherwise, some 55 million American women will be left without no-co-pay birth control. Prior to the enactment of Obamacare, health insurance companies considered pregnancy a pre-existing condition. A repeal of the law would also leave pregnant women vulnerable to increased premiums, according to The Cut.

All of this happened nearly simultaneously, NPR reports, with the president of the Philippines, one of the most Catholic nations in the world, ordering free birth control to be distributed to six million women. Newly-elected Rodrigo Duterte, who has come under fire for his explosive rhetoric and brutal, unforgiving war on drugs, has somehow found within his cold, calculating heart to demand “zero unmet need for modern family planning.” Of course, abortion is still illegal there, but by 2018, any woman who wants birth control in the Philippines will be able to get it for free. Not so in the U.S., which is headed in the opposite direction.


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