Thank Disability Rights and the Resistance

"Folks praising Murkowski, Collins, and McCain: I think you misspelled Hirono, ADAPT, and every activist resisting the Republican agenda."
Jake Johnson
July 28, 2017
Jean Ryan from Disabled in Action joins others in protesting against the Senate healthcare bill on June 28, 2017 in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Following the Senate's vote on Friday that dealt a crushing blow to the GOP's hopes of repealing Obamacare, major media outlets, Democratic lawmakers, and high-profile pundits singled out Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) vote against the so-called "skinny repeal" measure as the decisive factor in its downfall. But many are objecting strongly to this narrative: It is disability rights activists across the country who deserve credit, commentators argued, not a lone senator.


"If you want to thank anyone check out disability rights group ADAPT, or the Center for Disability Rights, who've been on the front lines."
—Roqayah Chamseddine

"If you want to thank someone" for Trumpcare's demise, wrote freelance journalist Paul Blest, "thank ADAPT and...constituents who raised hell about this. Don't praise power."

ADAPT is a national organization that engages in nonviolent civil disobedience to protect the rights of the disabled. Throughout the Trumpcare fight, ADAPT activists played a central role; for weeks they occupied Senate offices overnight, faced arrest, and in some cases endured harsh treatment from law enforcement to highlight the devastating effects Trumpcare would have on America's most vulnerable.

Last month, as Vox's Jeff Stein reported, as many as 50 ADAPT protestors were arrested in a day, and their efforts continued throughout the build-up to Friday's vote.

In an interview on Democracy Now! Thursday, Stephanie Woodward, an organizer with ADAPT, described the mass civil disobedience activists carried out earlier this week.

"I was arrested with about 64 of my lovely ADAPT warrior siblings as we were all chanting that we would rather go to jail than die without Medicaid, because we know that people with disabilities will, quite literally, die with these Medicaid cuts," Woodward said.

It is the persistence of Woodward and thousands of others—not the votes of a handful of senators—that deserves to be at the center of attention, many argued following Trumpcare's collapse.

Jake Johnson is a Common Dreams staff writer. 

July 28, 2017