Dozens of people protested the newly proposed Republican health care legislation outside the Capitol Hill office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Thursday - a demonstration that resulted in the arrests of many disability advocates.
U.S. Capitol Police said 43 were arrested and the department would make an announcement about the number of arrests and charges later in the day, spokeswoman Eva Malecki said. Protest organizers said several dozen people had been arrested.
The protesters staged a "die-in" in front of the office, with many of the protesters in wheelchairs removing themselves from the chairs then lying down on the floor.
"The American Health Care Act caps and significantly cuts Medicaid which will greatly reduce access to medical care and home and community based services for elderly and disabled Americans who will either die or be forced into institutions," Bruce Darling, an ADAPT organizer, wrote in a statement before the protests. "Our lives and liberty shouldn't be stolen to give a tax break to the wealthy. That's truly un-American."
Laura Halvorson, 33, also a protester, said many of those who participated in the die-in resisted arrest and were then removed by Capitol Police without their wheelchairs - images that attracted significant attention on social media. She said they were later reunited with their wheelchairs.
Halvorson, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, says she did not resist arresting officers because she uses a breathing machine and did not want to risk her health.
"I'm proud to be one of the people here protesting," she said. "Most people are opposed to this bill, yet it is still moving along."