Republicans in the House of Representatives passed their healthcare bill that would repeal and replace Obamacare Thursday, and now the measure's fate lies in the hands of the Senate. The Senate plans to write its own version of the bill rather than simply vote on the House's. And there's still a major problem: No women are working on drafting the Senate's healthcare bill. Zero.
Republican members of the Senate health committee have assembled a group to work on healthcare reform, which consists of 13 men. According to Bloomberg, the group includes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Budget Chairman Mike Enzi, Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
Of course, the Senate is just starting its process, so women could still join the discussion, but it's very telling that not a single female senator was involved from the beginning. Because, you know, women need and use health care, too. (Shocking, I know.)
The Senate is following in the footsteps of the House. When President Trump and Vice President Pence spoke Thursday, praising the House for finally passing the GOP bill, the crowd of Republican leadership behind them was overwhelmingly white and male.
As Sally Kohn of CNN pointed out: "It’s funny to imagine a bunch of dogs in a meeting voting on feline health care. But it’s preposterous to imagine a group of all women legislators making the decisions about what health care men can and cannot access — not only because it’s sadly preposterous to imagine a group of all women legislators but because men, their health care and their needs are so regularly put on a pedestal."
Women's healthcare advocates, including Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, fought the House's proposal from the beginning, and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards called it the "worst bill for women’s health in a generation" in a statement sent to Refinery29.
"This disastrous legislation once again makes being a woman a pre-existing condition; ‘defunds’ Planned Parenthood; guts maternity coverage; strips 24 million of their health insurance; lets insurance companies charge people with pre-existing conditions exorbitant rates; forces new moms back to work shortly after giving birth; and reduces access to contraception," she said.
It's not surprising, then, that hardly any women were involved.
There are 21 women in the Senate, and their voices — along with the voices of Americans who have to live with any changes in their healthcare plans — need to be heard. If the Senate wants to actually write legislation that will benefit all Americans, more than just white dudes have to be in the room.
House Republicans proved the depths of their hypocrisy and how little they care about women, and Senate Republicans seem to be doing the same.