Why Are 'Pro-Life' Republicans Pushing a Bill That Will Kill Tens of Thousands?

If "pro-life" were anything but a slogan meant to restrict women's rights, GOP senators would not be supporting this legislation

Mitch McConnell and his fellow Senate Republicans are pushing a bill that will lead to tens of thousands more Americans dying each year. Credit: Melina Mara/The Washington Post/Getty

Here's a dark fact: Every single GOP senator who calls him or herself pro-life who votes for the Republican health care bill knowingly will be voting for legislation that will kill tens of thousands of Americans per year.

Specifically, the Obamacare "repeal and replace" bill that's currently before the Senate could result in at least 26,500 additional dead Americans per year, according to researchers.

The math here is quite clear. Under Obamacare, some 28 million Americans will lack health insurance by the end of 2026. We knew that the Senate plan would drastically increase that number. And on Monday afternoon, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office told us by just how much: Its report analyzing the Senate bill finds that the plan's elimination of the penalty for not having insurance, combined with lower Medicaid spending and smaller subsidies, would result in 15 million more people being uninsured in 2018, compared to the current situation under Obamacare – that number would increase to 19 million in 2020, and 22 million in 2026. The CBO released a similar score for the House version of the bill that passed last month, concluding that eventually 24 million more people would lose insurance by 2026. (And what's remarkable about these estimates is that they're actually lower than the White House's own estimate from earlier this year: 26 million more uninsured Americans.)

Even going with the lesser of these numbers, that's 22 million Americans facing life without health insurance. Uninsured people are often on the precipice of economic disaster, as they could be one illness or injury away from having to face the devastating choice between spending money life's necessities – housing, food, clothes, children – or having health care. Avoiding this dilemma is the reason health insurance exists. Throwing tens of millions of Americans into this reality is unconscionable in and of itself.

But then there's that 26,500 figure – the conservative estimate of the number of Americans who would die every year under an Obamacare repeal plan like the one currently before the Senate. (Other studies put the number even higher.) We know this because of research conducted in the mid-2000s in Massachusetts, which was the first state to enact a program designed to insure everyone. After the program was fully implemented, researchers determined that for every 830 people who gained health insurance, there was one less death per year.

In other contexts, the Republican Party likes to talk about being the party of life. In particular, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a perfect record from National Right to Life, having voted with the group on every abortion-related bill it has tracked during his tenure.

If McConnell and his Republican colleagues really cared about life – if being "pro-life" were anything but a slogan meant to restrict women's rights – then they would not be pushing this legislation.