House Republicans passed legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, slashing health care coverage for millions, capping Medicaid expansions, and potentially allowing for discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions ― some of which essentially amount to being a woman.
An amendment added to the Affordable Health Care Act could allow insurance companies to charge higher premiums for citizens who have experienced postpartum depression, pregnancy, a C-section, domestic violence or rape. On the same day, the House also voted to defund Planned Parenthood, stripping approximately 390,000 low-income women of access to birth control and preventive health care.
It’s difficult to know what to say when lawmakers are knocking back beers while millions of poor and sick Americans contemplate their mere survival. Instead, illustrator and writer Courtney Privett posted her response to the “cruel and deadly” bill in the form of a drawing.
The illustration features a woman holding a protest sign reading, “I am a human being.” Various medical conditions including anxiety, cancer, HIV and sexual assault survivor are scrawled across her body and face. An elephant’s trunk pops into the frame, along with a speech bubble reading: “Human being? All I see is a pre-existing condition!”
Beneath the image, Privett wrote a response to the bill’s passing, expressing her disgust and disbelief with the news.
I’d hoped that we’d never regress back here. No one should have to choose between death and remaining alive but being unable to afford to live. PPD, sex assualt [sic], domestic violence as preexisting conditions shames the population into potentially fatal silence via financial blackmail.
Pre-ACA and before I got married, I was declined by every insurance carrier I applied for except for one, which wanted to charge me more money than I was earning. The first exclusion cited: knee arthroscopy, which was necessitated by a freak accident that dislocated my knee. Anything can be cited as a pre-existing condition, and under the proposed plan used to box you into a lifetime of medical debt.
In an email to HuffPost, Privett expanded upon her feelings regarding what she described as “a long day.”
We are not our diseases, conditions, disorders, or injuries. It’s dehumanizing to be seen as nothing but a label or a risk, and it’s humiliating to be shamed for circumstances outside of our control. Our lives are worth more than that, and much more than a number on a bill, but there are those who look at their fellow humans and see only profit or loss margins. That mentality leads not only reversion to the stigmas and stereotypes we’ve fought so hard to erase, but also to the devaluation of all of us from human beings into commodities.
Privett has been drawing politically inclined work since Trump’s inauguration. Following Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)’s now infamous silencing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) with the phrase “nevertheless, she persisted,” Privett created a drawing that soon went viral.
She then went on to create a series of works celebrating the resilience of other marginalized groups including immigrants, queer couples, people with disabilities and survivors of sexual assault.
When HuffPost interviewed Privett about her work in February, she summed up her intended message with four simple words: “We are not alone.”
Certainly those words feel necessary right now.