How 10 million Planned Parenthood supporters helped defeat repeal and save health care
Before they came to power, Donald Trump and Mike Pence swore they would shut down Planned Parenthood. But Planned Parenthood shut them down instead.
Republicans have threatened to repeal Obamacare for seven years. And they’ve been gunning for Planned Parenthood a lot longer than that.
Yet despite their obsessive dedication to these dangerous goals — and their control of both Congress and the White House — the GOP failed miserably last week, when the repeal bill died in the Senate.
That’s because Democrats stood firm and united in their opposition to a bill that would kick millions off their insurance to give tax cuts to the rich.
And it’s because two Republican women in the Senate — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — resisted months of bullying to oppose a bill they knew would be a disaster for their constituents.
And it’s also because of Planned Parenthood.
The century-old non-profit health care provider has been on the front lines of a war against health care for years — long before Trump came to town. In 2007, then-Rep. Mike Pence introduced the first piece of legislation to “defund” Planned Parenthood, and he’s been vigilant in his pursuit ever since.
Through the 2016 campaign, Pence assured conservatives that Planned Parenthood would be a top target for a Trump-Pence administration.
In March, he gleefully cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate to gut family planning — an obvious attack on Planned Parenthood.
Every single version of the Republicans’ repeal bill also included an attack on Planned Parenthood and its 2.4 million patients — even though 80 percent of voters, including 67 percent of Republicans, oppose defunding.
What the Trump administration and the Republicans in Congress foolishly failed to anticipate was the enormous outcry from Planned Parenthood’s 10 million supporters who fought tirelessly to protect not just Planned Parenthood, but all health care for every American.
As the House and then the Senate tried to craft their egregious bills in secret, Planned Parenthood supporters made more than 200,000 phone calls to members of Congress. They organized 2,200 events across the country — rallies, petition drops, phone banks, and marches.
And they delivered nearly 1.5 million petition signatures to Congress, from Americans who wanted to save health care — and Planned Parenthood.
In July, patients and providers stormed the Capitol to protest the repeal bill under which up to 13 million women could lose maternity coverage. It was in no small part because of the attack on Planned Parenthood that Collins and Murkowksi opposed the bill — something their constituents have been thanking them for ever since.
When the so-called “skinny repeal” bill died in the Senate, delivering a humiliating defeat for Trump and his party but a critical victory for Americans and their health care, it was not just because of the “no” votes. It was because of the millions of people who fought for months to make those “no” votes happen.
As Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement, “Americans across the country joined the rallying cry against this dangerous bill, rose up in opposition, and never let up. Against all odds, grassroots organizing defeated Trumpcare.”
Even as Trump and other Republicans continue to insist their efforts to undo Obamacare are not over, the same people who beat them before are gearing up to beat them again. And again. And again. As many times as it takes.
“We know this is the beginning, not the end, of fighting for what we believe in — but it’s a big step forward,” Richards said.
Republicans control Congress — for now. But they’re no match for the army of millions of Americans who never stop fighting to keep health care safe for everyone.