What the 2020 Election Could Mean for Reproductive Rights

At the moment, it is a cliché to say that there is “so much at stake” in the upcoming elections, but only because it’s painfully true. In addition to determining how (or if) the US will recover from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the November 3 vote will also have a major impact on Americans’ reproductive rights and sexual health.

To help us better understand how reproductive rights are at risk in the upcoming elections – and what we can do about it – Lifehacker spoke with Jacqueline Ayers , vice president of government affairs and public policy for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). Here’s what you need to know.

Your voice really matters

As we have witnessed over the past few weeks, the power of the president to appoint Supreme Court justices cannot be overemphasized, let alone the ability to sign executive orders and dictate the vision and goals of his party. And as dire as the reproductive rights situation with Donald Trump as president may seem, it could get much worse if he is re-elected.

“Right now, as we are in this country, we have elections that will truly be a struggle for our survival,” Ayers tells Lifehacker. “Everything is at stake, as elections are at the intersection of issues of race, class, gender – there is still plenty of room for policy change, but only if people step out, step out and vote. “

State and local elections are also extremely important.

But that goes far beyond who will spend the next four years in the Oval Office and in Congress – reproductive and sexual health policies are also implemented at the state and local levels, and how we vote in these races really matters. … “All we know is that we have seen an unprecedented attack on our healthcare and on the state, local and federal level,” explains Ayers.

Currently, there are 17 cases at the state level, which are just one step away from the Supreme Court, which will determine access to abortion. One such case concerns Georgia’s six-week abortion ban, which would outlaw and restrict abortion — even when a person might not know he’s pregnant, Ayers said. In response, the PPFA is working to change Senate seats in places like Maine and Colorado, Arizona, Montana and North Carolina, she notes.

Don’t ignore state and local court races

If you live in a state where judges are elected, be aware of the impact the results of these elections might have. To see why these races are so important, look no further than 2018. After Brett Cavanaugh was confirmed in the Supreme Court, Ayers says that some states have started passing extremely restrictive abortion laws, fully expecting them to be challenged in lower courts. and hoping that they will make their way through the circuit courts and then eventually to the Supreme Court, where they will be judged by a conservative panel. Ayers said the current administration has nominated about 200 judges to federal and lower courts who are hostile to reproductive health – a trend she said could change if people vote all the way up and down.

“It’s very important to pay attention to the judiciary,” she says. “Because in the states where judges are elected, we know that everything is at stake there, too. And the ability to protect access to reproductive health services and make sure abortion restrictions cannot be advanced — a lot of that starts in government courts. ”

The Affordable Care Act has a huge impact on sexual and reproductive health.

With so much emphasis on access to abortion provided through Roe v. Wade (and rightfully so), it’s easy to lose sight of exactly how much we could lose if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were repealed. For example, Ayers says giving up the ACA will do huge harm because people will lose compulsory maternity insurance and maternity insurance – and while black women who are pregnant in the United States are still three times as many. Complications or death from pregnancy are likely.

“We cannot allow people to lose their insurance coverage,” says Ayers. “It is important to remember that today, 29.8 million people have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. We know that 62 million women now have access to expanded contraceptive coverage without personal expense, including 70 million Hispanics [and] 50 million black women. Guaranteeing birth control is essential and cannot be denied. “

In addition to birth control, the ACA also ensures that just having a uterus is not considered a pre-existing medical condition, along with having experienced domestic violence.

“One of the reasons Planned Parenthood and our supporters really fought hard to get the Affordable Care Act passed was because we knew the importance of expanding [including] contraceptive coverage so that people can get more services by expanding Medicaid, says Ayers. “We want to be sure that it will never be canceled, and, in fact, we are voting in these elections to continue to build on this success. The ACA has made so many opportunities, and especially now, with the pandemic, I think people want better access to health care, not less. ”

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