In the face of sure defeat, Republican leaders decided yesterday to not even hold a vote on the Graham-Cassidy-Heller bill, the GOP's last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Since the bill had been deemed "the worst bill for women's health" and would "defund" Planned Parenthood by prohibiting Medicaid patients or others who benefit from federal programs from using the organization's services, it should come as no shock that organizers at Planned Parenthood were thrilled to hear that news.
Still, this defeat shouldn't allow us to lose momentum and Jacqueline Ayers, national director of legislative affairs at Planned Parenthood, talked to Refinery29 about why the organization believes this bill failed and what Planned Parenthood supporters can do to stop a similar bill from passing in the future.
Why do you think that Republican senators couldn't pass the Graham-Cassidy bill?
"We at Planned Parenthood are pleased this bill failed, but we want to make it clear that it failed because it was bad policy and because the voices of Planned Parenthood supporters were too loud for senators to ignore. Today, millions of Americans who were at risk of losing their healthcare wake up knowing they still have care."
Do you think we'll have to face a similar bill in the future?
"We do know, unfortunately, that opponents of women's health in Congress are going to continue going after women's health and Planned Parenthood. They have a choice: listen and build good policy for their voters or attempt to score political points to get the attention of the most extreme parts of their base.
Yesterday's defeat was a lesson for Republican leadership. The bill was defeated partly because it included Planned Parenthood defunding. That is a poison pill. Every senator has Planned Parenthood patients in their state."
So where do we go from here? How can Planned Parenthood supports keep making their voices heard?
"Even as [Republican senators] attempt to restrict women's health again — and we know they will try again, we need to keep our voices heard. That means thanking the senators who opposed the Graham-Cassidy bill and continuing to call those who supported it.
People can text "defend" to 22422 and that allows folks to become a Planned Parenthood defender. We'll let people know what to do next, how to take action, where to meet up with other supporters, etc.
Senators have gotten 350,000 calls from Planned Parenthood supporters and about 2,700 events have been held across the country. The attacks won’t end, but neither will Planned Parenthood patients. They’ll be there to speak out to make sure we have access to birth control and safe abortions.
Planned Parenthood has been around for more than 100 years, we’re certainly not going to back down now."
Read these stories next: