Three Republican Women Stopped The Obamacare Repeal

It was a regular old rebellion.

On Tuesday, three Senate Republicans announced their opposition to repealing Obamacare without a replacement, ending President Donald Trump's effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act for the foreseeable future. 

All three of the Senate Republicans were women.

Their opposition to a motion to proceed to a vote came after two additional GOP defections on Monday night ended the Senate's effort to pass the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), a bill that would have repealed Obamacare and activated a new health care law all at once. In the wake of that loss, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed a vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement, but the three Senators who came out against it — Susan Collins (Maine), Shelley Capito (West Virginia), and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — ended any chance of Republicans rallying enough votes to move forward. 

The significance of the initial opposition coming from women hasn't been lost on political observers, many of whom pointed to the phenomenon on Twitter. The Associated Press' congressional reporter Alan Fram called it the "revenge of the GOP women."

Currently, just 21 of the 100 members of the United States Senate are women. Only five are Republicans. On top of that, the GOP decided to leave all five women out of the initial working group that drafted plans to repeal and replace Obamacare, making it a group of 13 men. Sen. Capito was occasionally invited to attend the group's meetings, but her concerns over Medicaid were not alleviated in any version of the bill, Vox reported.

"I did not come to Washington to hurt people," Capito said in a statement on Tuesday morning. "For months, I have expressed reservations about the direction of the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare."

The only other Republican Senators that are women — Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Deb Fischer (Nebraska) — haven't taken a public stand on the bill.

Most importantly, though, the passage of BCRA or a repeal of Obamacare would have had serious implications for women all across the country. If BCRA would have passed, it would have prohibited funding to Planned Parenthood for a year. Many experts say that would have resulted in hundreds of Planned Parenthood clinics shuttering their doors, which would have devastating impacts on estimated the one in five women who go to Planned Parenthood at some point in their lives.

The BRCA also would have allowed states to opt out of making insurers cover Essential Health Benefits, which include maternity care. A study from March of Dimes illustrates how the BRCA would skyrocket the cost of getting pregnant and having children.

"It's going to make it much harder to avoid a pregnancy that you don't want, it's going to make it harder to [end] an unwanted pregnancy, and it's going to make it harder to take care of that baby when you do have it," Andrea Flynn, a health policy fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, told TIME in June. "We can't expect that women will be able to be economically secure if they can't access health care and take care of themselves and their families."

With the repeal of Obamacare temporarily tabled, Republican Senators and prominent Democratic politicians have begun expressing optimism that the two parties can come together and draft a bipartisan piece of legislation to fix Obamacare. 

"The Congress must now return to regular order," Sen. John McCain said in a statement on Monday. "Hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties, and heed the recommendations of our nation's governors so that we can produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to quality and affordable health care."

Cover photo: Shutterstock / mark reinstein

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