Hello, fellow pro-choice champions! My name is Clara, and I’m interning with NARAL this summer.
On Monday, June 5, NARAL’s Board Chair, Natalie, and I drove to Kenosha to participate in a press conference and town hall organized by Rep. Tod Ohnstad. In partnership with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, and 9to5 Wisconsin, NARAL mobilized neighbors and activists to show up loud and proud in our fight for affordable healthcare for all Wisconsinites.
The press conference was held in front of Paul Ryan’s Kenosha office (with the blinds closed and Paul Ryan nowhere in sight), where representatives Chris Taylor and Tod Ohnstad discussed how Trumpcare/Ryancare/AHCA failed millions of Americans who currently rely on Obamacare to afford healthcare. A woman from Bristol, a small conservative town in Wisconsin, also shared her experiences with Planned Parenthood in front of the camera, praising PP’s cervical cancer screenings that allowed her to become a mother. With NARAL signs and t-shirts, we stood in solidarity to send a clear message to Ryan — we will not stand for the GOP threats to the health of Wisconsin women and families.
After the press conference, we drove to the town hall, which had an extremely good turnout. Constituents from Kenosha and surrounding towns came to share their healthcare stories and concerns with Wisconsin State Representatives and Senators Jimmy Anderson, Daniel Riemer, Peter Barca, Janet Bewley, David Crowley, Debra Kolste, Tod Ohnstad, Chris Taylor, Lisa Subek, Mark Miller, and Robert Wirch. Paul Ryan ever so politely ignored his invite and failed to show up (is this a surprise to anyone?), thus a cardboard cutout of him graced everyone at UAW Local 72.
The stories everyone shared were extremely moving and showed how much of a negative impact the AHCA would have on Wisconsin residents. Parents of disabled children shared how the Affordable Care Act financially allowed them to get the care their children needed. They expressed their worries about the impending AHCA. A woman shared a story about a single mother who had a critical health problem but could not afford care, causing the mother to die in her home and leaving three children behind. Representative Jimmy Anderson told his story, saying the ACA saved his life by making it financially feasible to afford care after a drunk driver caused the death of his family members and inflicted lifelong injuries to him. Additionally, multiple women spoke about their positive experiences with Planned Parenthood.
The testimonies from the town hall were sent to Ryan and Sen. Ron Johnson, and hopefully these stories will inspire within them, and other republicans, some type of conscious regarding healthcare. Hearing everyone speak in Kenosha emphasized how Republicans like Paul Ryan, President Trump, and Governor Walker are not listening to the majority of Americans and are unnecessarily politicizing healthcare, at the expense of low-income women and families. Healthcare is a basic human right, and no one should struggle to pay for it.
By Clara Jeon, Legislative Intern