The following is a guest post. It is the author’s perspective on the Affordable Care Act rallies that took place at the Supreme Court earlier this week and their viewpoint on the law itself. We invite you to submit your opinions and thoughts on this week’s SCOTUS events and the ACA by commenting on this post.

By Paris Bienert. As a sophomore at the George Washington University I have lived in the nation’s capital for almost two years now, and in all that time I had not found an event that warranted waking up earlier than the sun. On Tuesday, though, for the first time there was an event I felt I could not ignore. A few days earlier, I had received an email asking me to partake in a rally at the Supreme Court to support the Affordable Care Act. As a college student, as a woman, and as an American, I could not pass up this opportunity to express my beliefs.

At the rally, fellow supporters of the law, most of whom hailed from pro-choice groups such as NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood, marched in a circle holding signs and chanting. Weaving in and out of the same area were Tea Partiers, pro-lifers, and other opponents of the law, all chanted in opposition of the supporters.

With posters in hand, my roommate and I joined in the circle of marchers; we were timid at first, but within seconds we were captivated by the crowd’s energy and began partaking in the passionate cheers led by supporters of the law. Of all the different chants, my favorite was a rhythmic mantra of “The health law works for you! The health law works for me! The health law works for every American family!”

Even though what we were chanting was fair, un-provocative, and – dare I say – true, many of the opponents responded with assertions that were unnecessarily extreme and hurtful, not to mention some that were downright untrue. For example, one pro-lifer proclaimed into the microphone that all of us pro-choicers are completely against all human rights, a claim which, in my opinion, is entirely nonsensical.

I would like to take a moment just to counter some of the accusations directed at me during the rally: No, I do not hate freedom. No, I do not support tyranny. But yes, yes I do support the Affordable Care Act.

I especially enjoyed one particular attempt to marginalize supporters of the law, which involved a Tea Partier declaring over the loudspeaker, “You people here today are the only people in America who support Obamacare.” Now, I will admit that there were not tens of millions of Americans who showed up that morning, but nevertheless I am pretty confident that health care reform has far more supporters than the people who were able to make it to the Supreme Court that day.

The most striking thing about my experience at the rally, though, was the fact that almost all of the discourse I heard regarded abortion, contraception, and women’s health in general. The Affordable Care Act provides improved healthcare coverage for all Americans, and that coverage includes a wide range of medical services that are by no means limited to women’s reproductive health. Despite this fact, the only things people seemed to be willing to talk about at the rally were birth control and abortion.

The poster I held at the rally spelled out, in simple black and white, “Don’t Deny My Healthcare: Protect the Law.” In other words, my poster provided no specific reasons as to why I support the Affordable Care Act. And yet, just because I was a young woman, it was assumed that I support the law solely because of its benefits for women’s health.

What if, though, I supported the Affordable Care Act because it means that my family could now afford expensive medication for my younger brother’s pre-existing condition or disability? What if my support for the law stemmed from the fact that I would no longer have to worry as much about my senile grandfather suffering neglect or maltreatment? Although these are legitimate reasons for a young woman to support thie health care law, it appears that the most publically discussed and debated issues all have to do with women’s reproductive health.

The aggressive comments directed at me on Tuesday made clear the opponents’ assumption that I support the Affordable Care Act simply because it provides me personal access to government-covered birth control. Attacks such as “You’re a barbaric monster for supporting abortion” and “If you can’t buy your own birth control, then what are you?” confirmed that many people believe this law deals primarily with women’s reproductive health, and that is not true.

The rally’s central theme – women’s reproductive health rights – made me realize that we are in a revolution. I saw firsthand that the opposing sides of these issues are going to stop at nothing to get their voices heard and have their beliefs disseminated. I am personally offended that people at the rally assumed that I must hate freedom to have the views that I do; it saddens me because that statement could not be less true. Why is it that while exercising our citizen rights Americans like me are portrayed as un-American?

When I got back to my dorm after the rally, I emailed my dad a photo of myself standing in front of the Supreme Court building, poster in hand with a big goofy smile on my face. Now, my dad and I differ on pretty much every political or social issue, but I figured he would still be proud to see me standing up for what I believe, and if not at least for getting out of bed before 11. He responded to my email saying, “Paris, I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

I feel that my dad’s self-adaptation of a Voltaire quotation in his email to me reflects the way we should be acting as a nation. Our duties as citizens do not only include exercising our right to stand up for what we believe; they also include respecting our neighbors who share that same right. In this time of social revolution, progress will only occur if we listen to and learn from what the people around us are saying, even when we have different viewpoints than them. Nothing positive will happen if we keep trying to scream louder than the person next to us. It is my hope that during this revolution we can all work together to move towards the positive progress we are all dying to see. In the meantime, I will continue waking up at ungodly hours if it means the opportunity to fight for my rights, because I am a proud American woman and I will stand up for what I believe in.

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