Over the course of the last couple of months, healthcare protests have erupted all over the country to ‘Kill the bill’ ― the Republican act to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “Obamacare.” Healthcare advocacy has never been this present in our country ― disability organizations like ADAPT and NCIL (National Center for Independent Living) are rolling out protests, along with other organizations like Our Revolution and even the Democratic Party. These discussions are always plastered all over the news, covering headlines and filling up the push notifications on my phone. No matter where I go or what I do, even when I’m trying to avoid the topic, there seems to be no escape from the looming headlines.
As a young woman with a chronic illness, my relationship with the health care debate is a little bit different than your average 20-something. Disability and health care are an important part of my life and have been since my health began deteriorating when I turned 15. Since then, I’ve dedicated the majority of my time to the disability community— from volunteering in hospitals to establishing organizations with my peers. Over the last year, I’ve built relationships with people all across the disability spectrum, most of whom I consider close friends. Most of the people being arrested on TV for these causes are people who I know.
While my journey into the world of disability and healthcare began as an attempt to understand my own experiences, this is no longer about me. Everyone who I’ve met on this journey has incredibly valuable experiences ― rich lives of their own. The more that I learn about the different ways in which people experience disability, the more urgent this fight becomes. These people are your friends, too— maybe more than that. They’re our mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, and best friends from high school. They’re our teachers and lawyers and doctors. No matter how severe their preexisting condition or situation in life, they deserve to be given the opportunity to live. But if the Republicans succeed on their quest to repeal the ACA, we will all be living in a world where all our friends are dead.
I do not want to live in a world where all my friends are dead.