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At Supreme Court Demonstrations, A Focus on Women’s Health [PHOTOS]
About a thousand people crowded outside the Supreme Court in the early-morning heat Thursday awaiting a ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act—a historic piece of legislation crafted to provide healthcare for nearly all Americans. For some protestors, and counter-protestors, of the Affordable Care Act, the ruling was about more than how to interpret the Commerce Clause.
It was about “Freedom Yes, Tyranny No,” according to “Don’t Tread on Me”-bannered Tea Party protesters.
To some progressive activists, it was about how “Health care is a human right.”
But overwhelmingly, regardless of ideology, most who gathered at the bottom of the high court’s steps made it about young women.
The most visible, and perhaps loudest, anti-ACA force at the rally was a group of pro-life demonstrators from organizations such as Americans United for Life, Students For Life of America, and Priests For Life.
“Abortion is a war on women,” came one pro-life chant. “Babies die on ACA, see it overturned today,” was another. “Defund Planned Parenthood” and “Get your ovaries off my rosaries,” demanded the signs.
The strength and fury of the pro-life demonstrations was curious given the fact that the Affordable Care Act will actually maintain the status quo on abortion policy.
Some demonstrators were also angry about the mandate the Obama administration ushered in requiring contraceptive coverage for female employees who work at religiously-affiliated institutions, including universities, but excluding houses of worship despite the compromise that was struck to ensure that only insurers and not employers would be burdened to hammer out the coverage details.: “Your pills, your bills,” read one protestor’s sign. “Real women buy their own birth control,” chanted some men, ignoring the fact that women already pay more for health insurance in many states.
Proponents of the ACA, like Planned Parenthood and its supporters, showed up in force with pink signs reading “Protect Women’s Health,” and other messages about the 45 million women who will have access to no-cost preventative screenings under the ACA. Among the most prominent signs in the crowd were “Stand Up For Women’s Health” and “Stop the War on Women.”
Two belly dancers took center stage at the protest, swaying their hips in favor of overturning the mandate and instituting a single-payer system.
Less flashily, National Nurses United urged, “Love It! Improve It! Medicare For All!”
“As nurses, we see the devastation of not having comprehensive health care,” said member Judy Alba.
After the news came out, slowly and confusingly, that the ACA had passed Constitutional muster, progressives cheered the news.
“I am very proud to be an American today,” said Derek Pugh of The Young Invincibles. “A majority of Americans are in favor of young people staying on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26 and not charging women more for premiums.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the ruling a “big victory” for women, and young people who can now stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they turn 26 years of age.
“When the bill comes into effect, being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing medical condition,” said Pelosi.
Emily Crockett is a reporter with Campus Progress. Follow her on Twitter @emilycrockett.
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