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VOICES

Women’s Advocacy Groups Lead Pro-ObamaCare Demonstrations At Supreme Court

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The second day of arguments on the Affordable Care Act was marked by demonstrations for women’s rights.

CREDIT: Campus Progress / Graham White

The loudest voices at Tuesday morning’s demonstrations outside the Supreme Court came from those defending women’s rights.

For the second day, hundreds of protestors convened at the Supreme Court building as the highest court in the nation continued to hear arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. But unlike earlier protests, the issue of women’s rights became the focal point of these demonstrations.

Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Organization for Women, and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health each brought scores of supporters from throughout the country to demonstrate in the nation’s capital, supplying them with T-shirts and signs and leading them in chants.

While marching, protestors carried signs that featured messages such as “We Love ObamaCare” and “Protect Women’s Health.” One toddler, who was joining his mother in the demonstration, touted a small sign that read, “Every Mommy Deserves Health Care.”

In between chants, demonstrators indicated they were drawn to the rally to voice their support for the benefits women received as part of the health care reform law.

“We’re here to protect health care for women,” Langan Denhard, a sophomore at the University of Maryland–College Park, told Campus Progress. “The Affordable Care Act guarantees access to mammograms, cancer screenings, and other vital health procedures.”

Indeed, the law eliminates co-payments for the aforementioned preventive services and ensures that those and other basic health services are covered.

“ObamaCare also protects women from insurance discrimination,” noted Veronica Aveis, the Manager of Political Affairs at Planned Parenthood–New York City. “If we don’t keep it, it will be a major setback for women everywhere.”

Aveis, who traveled to the rally from her job in New York, is referring to the fact that before the Affordable Care Act was implemented, it was legal in most states to charge higher premiums to people because of their gender.

But not all of the demonstrators are happy with the changes. Tea Party groups organized a simultaneous counter-protest outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning, though with far fewer supporters. Those who did show up were steadfast in their opposition to all of healthcare reform, even when pressed with the fact that the law makes it significantly easier for women to access crucial preventive health services.

“Nobody had a problem accessing those services before,” said Sylvia Smith, a Tea Party coordinator from Littleton, New Hampshire. “We need to keep fighting this socialism.”

Unfortunately, the comments from Smith and others protesting against the Affordable Care Act reflect a troubling disconnect from reality. Until the legislation was passed, many low-income women didn’t have access to preventative screenings for the top killers of women because they couldn’t afford it. But over the past two years, 20 million women have been able to receive preventive care with no co-pay through the law.

Despite the Tea Party opposition, women’s rights advocates dominated the morning protests with overwhelming numbers. Many of those who demonstrated said they plan to return on Wednesday, when the Supreme Court concludes its hearings on the Affordable Care Act. The court is expected to deliver its ruling in late June.

Graham White was a former intern with Generation Progress and now is on the executive board of the Black Law Students Association at Yale. You can follow him on Twitter @GrahamWhiteNY.

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