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In an op-ed in Lenny newsletter, Sen. Kamala Harris of California attacked the new health care bill drawn up by her (all-male) colleagues in the Senate — a bill that "would be absolutely terrible for women," she wrote.

"The Senate Republican health care plan is, as the young people might say, a 'hot mess,'" Harris lambasted, noting that women would take the brunt of its negative effects.

If the bill becomes law as is, many key provisions in the Affordable Care Act that help women — particularly vulnerable, low-income women — would be stripped away.

As the senator explained, the Better Care Reconciliation Act would:

  1. Bar women on Medicaid from visiting Planned Parenthood, even though about half of the organization's patients rely on Medicaid for their care.
  2. Reverse the ACA's requirement that insurers cover birth control and maternity care — a setback that specifically targets women.
  3. Stick women with a hefty "pregnancy tax" from greedy health insurance providers simply for becoming a parent.

"This is not a time for courtesy," Harris wrote. "This is a time for courage."

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

While the fate of BCRA is hanging in the balance, Harris is calling on all of us to find our inner superhero.

A handful of key Republican senators have publicly denounced the bill, which suffered an onslaught of negative press coverage after the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would knock roughly 22 million Americans off their health insurance by 2026.

It may be in a "bad place," CNN's Phil Mattingly wrote, but "big pieces of legislation die a thousand declared deaths before they magically find a way to passage." This is why Harris is encouraging every Lenny reader to take action until the bill is, without a doubt, dead.

"Confronted with this catastrophic health care proposal, all of us have a choice," the senator argued. "It's a little like the choice Diana faces in 'Wonder Woman,' which I saw a few weeks ago and loved. Do we steer clear of the troubles of the world? Or do we join the fight? For me, the answer is easy: Join the fight. Make your voices heard. Because this is not a drill."

Reach out to your senators and voice your opposition to the Senate GOP's health care bill.

It's an unforgettable image.

Just a few hours after Senate Republicans released their health care bill, a woman in a wheelchair chanting "No cuts to Medicaid" is rolled down Capitol office building hallway by police.

About 10 seconds into the shot, the officers lift her out of her chair and carry her off-screen and outside as her chants grow louder and louder.

Her name is Stephanie Woodward. She's a disability rights lawyer and activist.

She had traveled to D.C. with a group of around 60 protestors to call on the Senate majority leader to preserve the program.

"People with disabilities depend on Medicaid for our lives and for our liberty," she says in an interview.

The group piled into McConnell's office with others lying down on the floor just outside. Members were taken into custody about 20 or 30 minutes later.

The Senate bill contains major cuts to Medicaid, a program that funds a large portion of medical care for Americans with disabilities.

The current proposal caps the amount of money the federal government provides the states to cover the program, which funds home care for disabled adults in addition to general medical care. With drastic funding reductions, Woodward fears, many disabled adults would be forced into nursing homes, losing their independence in the process.

"My parents were working-class people," says Woodward, who was born with spina bifida. "They couldn't afford to keep me alive if it wasn't for Medicaid. Medicaid paid for all my surgeries growing up, paid for my wheelchairs. I wouldn't be who I am today ... without Medicaid getting me here."

Woodward would like to see senators revise the bill — and bring people with disabilities into the process.

High on her list is making sure the law does not reduce the ability of people who need intensive, frequent medical care to do more than just survive.

Photo by Don Emmert/Getty Images.

"We have the right to not only live, but live just as every other American in the community," she says.

In the meantime, she has no regrets about the protest.

"I'm certainly a bit sore, but it's worth it," she insists. "It's what we need to do to fight for our lives."

For her, it's about the values in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

"We don't see that as just restricted to people without disabilities," she says. "I think that's for all Americans."


Taxpayer funds don't go toward abortion — which makes this move by Congress a bit weird.

Making the Hyde Amendment permanent would be a big step backward for reproductive rights.

For the past 40 years, the Hyde Amendment has prevented federal tax dollars from paying for abortions.

While not a law, the amendment has become a routine addition to federal budgets — and a thorn in the side of reproductive rights advocates. For the most part, however, members of both parties have accepted its place in American politics and haven't put up too much of a fight so long as it remains merely a rider to be renewed on an annual basis and not a permanent law.

Pro- and anti-choice activists square off outside the Supreme Court in 2005. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives will vote on a bill that would elevate the Hyde Amendment's status from budget rider to law.

On Jan. 13th, Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) introduced the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act. It's expected the full House will convene to vote on the bill — which is likely to pass, as it did in 2013 and 2015.

Less certain, however, is what chance the bill stands in the Senate, where it has been voted down after passing the House in each of the previous two attempts. To make it through the Senate, 52 Republicans andeight Democrats would have to join forces to put the bill on the president's desk.

Rep. Chris Smith. Photo by Kris Connor/ Getty Images.

Should it pass both chambers of Congress, President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law, fulfilling a campaign promise.

In September, Trump made a series of pledges aimed at courting anti-choice activists. Among those promises were plans to nominate "pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court," sign the so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act into law, defund Planned Parenthood "as long as they continue to perform abortions," and — yes — to make the Hyde Amendment permanent.

Early in the campaign, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders spoke out against the Hyde Amendment.

Trump signs an executive order designed to restrict aid to nongovernmental organizations that provide abortion and family planning services. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

You may be asking yourself why it matters whether or not something that's been in effect for 40 years becomes permanent or not — and that's fair.

The truth is the Hyde Amendment, while a consistent part of American life in the post-Roe v. Wade world, disproportionately harms the 15.6 million low-income women who rely on Medicaid for their health care. By making the prohibition permanent, it becomes significantly more difficult to overturn (which would, again, require a majority in the House, a supermajority of 60 votes in the Senate, and the signature of the president to change).

Planned Parenthood warns the Hyde Amendment may result in women foregoing necessities like electricity, heat, and food in order to save funds to pay for an abortion out-of-pocket. Additionally, it may lead to dangerous attempts to self-induce an abortion.

Making the Hyde Amendment permanent would be a step backward for reproductive rights. Call your representative and senators and urge them to vote "no" on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act.


Child care workers across America are a part of the Fight for $15 to demand higher wages.


Because the current system makes it difficult for the people caring for our children to be able to care for their own.

The Fight for $15 rally in New York City. Image via The All-Nite Images/Flickr.

Betty Henderson knows all about this.

Betty Henderson at a Child Care and Development Block Grant hearing in Lansing, Michigan, calling for more funding for child care. Image via Betty Henderson, used with permission.

Henderson's been a child care provider for 16 years. Last year, she opened her own child care center, Angels of Essence. She has three teachers working for her, but because of a lack of funding, she can only pay them $9 an hour — despite them having degrees and being extremely deserving.

Most of the people who rely on Betty's team to care for their kids pay for child care through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), the federal program that's primarily responsible for funding state child care assistance programs like Michigan's Child Development and Care subsidy. But the rate the state of Michigan pays out for this service is often too low to cover the cost of care and overhead. As owner and director of Angels of Essence, Henderson could charge the parents a copay, but they can't afford it and child care is a necessity.

Soshe places the needs of others above her own even if that means her hourly rate dipping to $2.58 from time to time. She knows in her heart, though, that the work she does is incredibly important to a child's development.

"It's not only rewarding, it's beneficial. Not only to parents, but to the children," said Henderson. "We watch these kids 10 to 12 to 14 hours per day. We see them, we care for them, we love them, but yet what we get paid is very very minimal.

The teachers of Angels of Essence and their students. Image via Betty Henderson, used with permission.

The challenges Henderson faces affect other important aspects of her life.

She's not able to address her health challenges because she isn't provided with any medical benefits. And even if she were to pay the cost on her own, she can't afford to take time off work. It's a heartbreaking dilemma that extends to her education and day-to-day operations.

"There're certain educational requirements that have to be met for the state of Michigan in order to run a center and to continue to operate a center," said Henderson. "That within itself is another heavy financial burden because there’s money that's just not there to do that. But yet it has to be done or my center can be closed down."

Despite the hurdles, Henderson won't be stopped.

Betty Henderson at a press conference held in front of Angels of Essence. Image via Betty Henderson, used with permission.

Henderson has been all over the U.S., attending rallies and conventions and joining her fellow fighters in their pursuit of a better livelihood. She's rallying for a livable wage for herself, her workers, and everyone in the same position. She's seen the good that can be achieved and knows that the movement's goals are very much on the horizon.

"We're just going to keep fighting until we get it done all over the map," said Henderson. "Even when Michigan gets it, that's still not a reason for me to just stop because now we finally have it. I'll keep fighting until all the states have their minimum wage."

No doubt the community and camaraderie has made their collective voices stronger than ever.

Reflecting on a rally held at Angels of Essence, Henderson talks about the beauty of people coming together for a common cause:

"The health care workers were here. The fast food workers were here. The airport workers were here. It's unity! And even though it's not a union, we still unite together because we're all fighting for the same thing."

No doubt this is what's right. Image via The All-Nite Images/Flickr.

It's not just the workers who have something at stake.

Think about kids learning new developmental skills because they had the proper resources. Or the parents who are able to work more efficiently, knowing their children are in good hands. In fact, just think about the future generations of this country.

Said Henderson: "Even though I've been doing this for a while and I'm 45 years old, I’m still caring for my son's future and my granddaughter's future, so it's not just about us. It's about the ones under us as well, so we need everyone to join together and be a part of this fight."

No matter the industry, the Fight for $15 is about people and their right to make a living wage — for themselves and their families. And working together is the only way we'll get there.