It is the right of every individual to make their own choice when confronted with decisions that will affect their body and family. What we have seen in Texas and in states around the country is an all-out assault on the reproductive health rights of individuals who can become pregnant. What many view as well established constitutional protections won in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and later affirmed in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, have been methodically eroded away by republican legislatures. The Democratic leadership responded to this latest attack through the introduction of the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021. This bill, which has passed in the House, reinforces the right to choose as a fundamental right and provides protection for medical providers, family, and friends who may assist or support such individuals in obtaining these procedures. I fear that this bill is only a statement of solidarity sent to the Senate with no hope of being considered further. The political reality is that we have a conservative packed court that can’t be trusted to uphold the well-established protections that were so hard-fought.
While we continue to fight in the courts at the federal and state levels, Congress must seek more opportunities to support individuals capable of becoming pregnant and to shield these individuals from further undue burden. Reproductive Justice doesn’t stop in the womb, it encompasses the entire journey an individual chooses to make and we must do everything in our power to create a system that encourages this freedom of choice without obstruction or fear.
I believe we must act now and support more legislation in the following areas:
Eliminate barriers to contraceptive treatments.
This is achieved through a Medicare for All plan where an individual’s employer will no longer have influence on healthcare decisions. This includes ensuring access to contraceptive devices, medications, and procedures where undue burdens are currently imposed.
Secure access to reproductive healthcare for all people capable of becoming pregnant.
Transgender individuals are subjected to higher rates of sexual assault and sexual violence than their cisgender peers. These individuals are also more likely to struggle with access to healthcare facilities when medical treatment is needed. We must protect these communities through initiatives like Medicare for All.
Ensure economic opportunity for individuals who choose to continue a pregnancy.
Starting a family should not place individuals, especially single parents, at an economic disadvantage. We must expand on the Family Medical Leave Act by requiring paid parental leave up to a minimum of 12 weeks.
Expand services for after-birth and early childhood care.
Proper childcare is essential for development and should not create an undue burden on an individual who has returned to the workforce. We must expand child and dependent care credits and establish universal Pre-Kindergarten, ensuring that all children in this country receive an equitable start.