How Women Killed The Recent Attempt To Repeal Obamacare

Trump’s campaign-trail promise to “immediately…knock out Obamacare” is proving to be more difficult than the GOP originally anticipated, as we are now over one-hundred and eighty days into the Trump presidency and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still intact.  Initial attempts to repeal and replace the ACA have led to resistance on both sides of the aisle, with members of Congress expressing concern that the bill written to replace the ACA would not do enough to ensure that low-income individuals had access to health insurance. This fear is a legitimate one, as repealing and replacing the ACA would leave 22 million Americans without healthcare and would also cause out-of-pocket medical payments to increase. Due to these issues (and others), Senate Republicans’ two attempts to dismantle the ACA have failed.

However, the message that the Senate was sending to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell apparently wasn’t getting through, as McConnell decided to vote on repealing the ACA without a replacement earlier this week. This decision posed a very real threat to Americans, as repealing the ACA without a replacement–a decision that Trump has supported in the past–would leave 32 million Americans without access to healthcare and would “blow up the insurance markets.” Those who support the ACA were waiting for this vote with bated breath–but it never came to pass.

The morning of July 17, three GOP Senators–Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska–all announced they would nix the repeal of the ACA should it come to a vote. These refusals, due to the laws of the Senate, halted the repeal attempt in its tracks. When asked why she voted against her party’s platform, Senator Murkowski said “I cannot vote to proceed to repeal [the ACA] without reform that allows people the choice they want, the affordability they need, and the quality of care they deserve.”

Though these three Senators’ views on other issues don’t align with mine (or Minnesota NOW’s) their stand against McConnell’s risky attempt to repeal the ACA without a replacement plan is a reminder that the fight to save the ACA is still alive and kicking, and getting support from unlikely places.

Update: On July 25, 2017 Senate Republicans voted to open debate on the healthcare bill. Two Republicans — Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) — voted no. 

National Conference Re-cap, or, We Need to Do Better, NOW Sisters

I was really excited to head to the National NOW conference a few weeks ago. It was in Orlando, Florida, and I gave myself a few days before and after the conference to relax and visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

On Friday morning I attended an awesome workshop on media coverage of sexual violence and came away with some great ideas for how to improve said coverage. It was great to be in a room full of folks who were just as outraged as I was about media coverage of things like sexual assault and child sexual abuse, and to brainstorm ways we could make positive changes.

It was an election year this year, and I volunteered to help the first all women of color officer ticket win the election. I attended a workshop later in the morning on Friday in which both women on the ticket spoke about their experience building coalitions, lobbying legislative bodies, and creating social change. It was at that workshop that my conference experience changed dramatically.

Behind me at the workshop sat two women who were wearing t-shirts supporting the other folks running for election, Toni and Gilda. While one of the women on the panel was talking they made rude, fairly loud comments about her experience and abilities. I was shocked that they would be so blatant with their comments, though others around me didn’t seem to notice. I didn’t say anything at the time (bad on me) but I did mention it to the women on the panel, and pretty much everyone else I ran into after the fact.

I tried to shake off the icky feeling and enjoy the rest of the conference, but other things that happened made me more upset.

I spent Saturday morning at the campaign table, talking to folks and handing out information. It reminded me very much of running my own campaign and it was pretty fun. While another volunteer and I were standing near the hallway that led to the rooms where the workshops were being held, a young woman who worked for NOW came up to me and told me that her and her colleagues had had a horrible time leading a workshop. A few older women had made them feel stupid for not being able to figure out a technology issue, and one of them even made a racial remark that prompted one of the staff (a young woman of color) to leave the room.

Later on that morning, after the candidates for President and Vice President had given their speeches and completed a Q & A session, an older white woman came up to one of the candidates on the all women of color ticket and started to scream at her. She then proceeded to do the same to several campaign volunteers, saying things about playing the race card, being racist, not respecting older feminists, etc. Keep in mind RACIAL JUSTICE IS LITERALLY ONE OF OUR SIX CORE ISSUES.

I had seen NOW members’ unfriendliness toward young feminists at National Conferences in the past, but I had never witnessed such outright hostility and racism. It was upsetting and disappointing, to say the least. It’s also something that needs to be addressed, and I hope the promises that newly elected NOW President Toni Van Pelt made in her acceptance speech to address these problems are not empty ones. We’re watching and we’re waiting, and we will hold NOW leadership’s feet to the fire on these issues. If we are going to be a feminist force to be reckoned with than we need to make sure that everyone – regardless of race, ethnicity, age or any other identity – feels welcome in our organization.



The Often-Forgotten Daughters of The Revolution

Having just spent the Fourth of July celebrating the Founding Fathers and their greatest achievement, it comes as no surprise that important figures of American history are on everyone’s minds. While most people know the stories of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, the women of the American Revolution are often forgotten. Though the fireworks may be over and the BBQ grills put away, let us remember a few of the  important American Revolution-era women who helped mold the best parts of our country, from sea to shining sea.

1. Sybil Ludington

In April of 1776, two individuals were sent out on a midnight ride to warn their communities that the British were invading American soil. One of these messengers was Paul Revere, a famous figure in American history. The other messenger was not, however, a Founding Father or a military hero. She was a sixteen year-old girl named Sybil Ludington. Though Sybil rarely gets the credit she deserves as a hero of American history, her ride on horseback was actually twice as long as Revere’s, and her efforts allowed the local military regiment to assemble and march against the British.

2. Phyllis Wheatley

Though she had been kidnapped from her native Gambia and forced into slavery upon reaching the United States, Phyllis Wheatley overcame many obstacles in order to become the nation’s first published African American poet. The publishers of her book were concerned that no one would believe that a female slave had written such beautiful poetry so they asked nearly twenty distinguished men in Boston to authenticate that she had. Wheatley’s work was so well-regarded that she was invited to meet George Washington after sending him a letter and poem of support. Soon after that she became recognized far and wide for her talented artistry and for her support of the Revolution.

3. Polly Cooper

Long before the French joined the American Revolution as allies to the colonists, American revolutionaries received support from the Oneida Nation, a Native American tribe that played an important role in providing aid to the colonists. One Oneida woman in particular was integral to the survival of the Revolution during the winter of 1777. Her name was Polly Cooper and she has been described as “an example of the courage, generosity and indomitable spirit of the Oneida people”. As one of forty members sent to Valley Forge in order to deliver food and medical aid, Cooper remained with the Revolutionary Army throughout the winter in order to insure the survival of as many soldiers as possible.

4. Abigail Adams

Easily one of the most famous women on this list, Abigail Adams was the wife and private advisor of eventual President John Adams. While she is most famous for urging her husband to “remember the ladies” when making new laws for the young nation, she also acted as a military organizer and “an adamant advocate of equal public education for women and emancipation of African-American slaves”. She was friends with a number of early American feminists, including Mercy Otis Warren, a political writer and satirist.

These women are just a few of the many ladies of liberty that history too often forgets. As you enjoy the last few fireworks and frankfurters from the holiday, remember to celebrate America’s earliest feminists as well!