WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 15:  Demonstrators join a rally against the proposed Republican tax reform legislation on the east side of the U.S. Capitol November 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. The rally was organized by a large group of liberal organizations, including MoveOn.org, National Education Association, Patriotic Millionaires, Stand Up America, Our Revolution, Americans for Tax Fairness Action Fund, Tax March, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Communications Workers of America, Indivisible, Little Lobbyists, Main Street Alliance and VoteVets.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The GOP Tax Bill Violates Reproductive Rights

Today House and Senate Republicans passed a widely unpopular tax bill, sending it to President Trump’s desk to be signed. Though you might not guess it, this bill will directly impact people’s access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services. 

Republicans are using tax reform as an opportunity to rollback important components of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) after several unsuccessful attempts to repeal the bill entirely. One major feature of the ACA is its individual health insurance mandate, which penalizes people who are not insured through their employers or through the insurance marketplace. While the penalty may seem unfair, it ensures that as many people as possible enroll in health insurance, making insurance more affordable for everyone. When the individual mandate is repealed, insurance premiums will rise, and low-income individuals will likely be unable to afford their own insurance plans.

Without this mandate, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that within 10 years approximately 13 million people will be without health insurance. Since the implementation of the ACA, 9.5 million women gained coverage and the proportion of insured Black, Latinx and low-income individuals increased.

Originally the tax bill included anti-abortion personhood language presuming the legal rights of a fetus in order to criminalize abortion. Fortunately, this language was removed due to the Byrd rule, which requires vetting of every policy to ensure its alignment with the federal budget — defining an unborn child’s education rights in a tax reform bill is irrelevant. This language is no longer included, but the bill still takes aim at marginalized people’s access to the health services they need.

While healthcare centers like Planned Parenthood can provide more affordable services regardless of age, gender, immigration status, or insurance coverage, sliding-scale clinics are still burdensome and people in conservative and rural communities face barriers even getting to their nearest clinic. High costs limit people’s reproductive choices and deter others from seeking out services at all. As an example, without insurance, an IUD can cost up to $900 plus $250 for the medical procedural fee.

This bill is an attack on the health and safety of low-income and marginalized people. Republicans are legislating deep cuts into our social safety nets. We need to identify other ways to defend our rights: we must take care of one another.

Header image credit: Getty Images via The Guardian

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Amanda R. Matos, proud Nuyorican from the Bronx, NY, is the co-founder of the WomanHOOD Project, a Bronx-based youth-led organization for young women of color. She is dedicated to empowering communities of color through capacity building, political education, and civic engagement. Amanda has led community organizing and policy initiatives at Planned Parenthood of New York City and Girls for Gender Equity. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government as a Sheila C. Johnson Fellow. On her free time, Amanda eats doughnuts and watches great TV shows like Jane the Virgin and Blackish.

Amanda R. Matos is a community organizer and reproductive justice activist from the Bronx, NY.

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