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A Brief Overview of Reproductive Justice in America

8/10/20 by Nelly Korasani

          Reproductive rights has been a public policy issue and topic of discussion amongst men and women for many years now; however, as women are the only individuals who are able to actually reproduce, and these reproductive rights were made exclusively for women, these constitutional rights should not be taken away by men, nor should they be included in making decisions on a woman's body. In 1973, the US Supreme Court case Roe vs. Wade confirmed that access to a safe and legal abortion is a constitutional right—but this right is being threatened by anti-abortion politicians. Nearly 1 in 3 women get an abortion at some point in their life, yet since 2011, more states have shown opposition to abortions than in the entire ten years prior. While there are currently no states where abortion is illegal, there are only a few states in the United States where there are little to no restrictions on abortions, in which the majority of states make it difficult for women to access these reproductive rights. In recent years, many politicians have been pushing towards trying to ban abortion; four states have written unconstitutional bans against abortions after 6 weeks, Alabama issued an unconstitutional ban against abortion from the time a person is “known to be pregnant, while Mississippi banned abortions at 8 weeks. None of these states make any exceptions for rape or incest. The majority of these bans were put in place by men, who in fact do not have reproductive systems in their bodies. When discussing reproductive rights and women’s healthcare, men are too often heavily included in these decision-making processes about a woman’s body. Politicians should not be making these extraordinarily personal choices for somebody else’s body. 

          Reproductive rights should also include birth control, which is something about 99% of sexually active women ages fifteen to forty-four use. Women do not only use birth control as a preventative measure for not getting pregnant, but many use it to help with their period cramps, irregular periods, acne, and low estrogen conditions. Birth control also helps with medical conditions such as PCOS or endometriosis, as well as helping women who are anemic. It also helps to reduce a woman’s risk of uterine cancer or getting ovarian cysts. This is all evidence that birth control should be considered a basic form of healthcare where all women need to have free access to it, but unfortunately that is not the case. Similar to abortions, politicians have started to put regulations on birth control and make it more difficult for women to access these resources. In July of 2020, the Trump Administration successfully won over the Supreme Court in allowing employers to deny birth control coverage to women who want it; this could lead to around 126,000 women losing coverage on birth control.

          In order to fix these reproductive issues, abortion needs to become easily accessible and free for women everywhere. Employers need to require coverage on contraceptives so that birth control can become accessible and free to all women no matter their income. It is extremely In addition, regulations must be lifted that go against the constitutional rights of women. To accomplish these goals, there have been a series of policies proposed and requests for removal of certain amendments that go against a woman’s constitutional right. A specific policy that should be continued is the Affordable Care Act, which was signed by President Obama in 2010 that makes it mandatory for employers to provide coverage for contraceptives and screenings. This is crucial because it would give women the opportunity to use birth control regardless of their income. The government should also pass the Each Woman Act, proposed by Representative Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, Lee, and Schakousky. This legislation would lift the Hyde Amendment—a provision that restricts federal funding of abortions unless to save a woman’s life or in cases of rape or incest. The Each Woman Act would provide free and accessible reproductive health to women, thus benefiting all women regardless of income. 

          In order to successfully pass the Each Woman Act and lift the Hyde Amendment, an activism plan and powerful voices are needed. The most effective way to have our government officials listen to us is by gaining a wide audience on social media, and then having those supporters directly email and sign petitions to pass the Each Woman Act and lift the Hyde Amendment. Social media is an extraordinarily efficient way to gain attraction and more supporters for a cause. Online activism can go viral very quickly, and by using social media platforms it allows more people to hear about these issues and ways to help. We would do this by creating a hashtag, options not obstacles, so people can post and others can find more information by clicking on the hashtag. Hashtags tend to gain more publicity and attraction as it is a quick and easy way to remember an issue. Social media is a great starting point, but it can not just end there. Individuals must also email or contact their local or state representatives directly; this will have a greater influence if it is promoted on social media by telling followers to take part. It is very important to contact your representatives and make sure they know why abortions and birth control need to be easily accessible for all women. Signing petitions or creating petitions is another way to accomplish our desired policy changes. If enough people sign the petition to lift the Hyde Amendment or pass the Each Woman Act, there will be a higher chance that Congress and other people in government will take this cause more seriously and actually take action. The best way to promote the petitions would be to create social media accounts, or have other accounts post about them as well. While currently stay-at-home orders and lockdowns have been put in place in many states due to coronavirus, it is important to also take action through protests, such as women’s marches, which have been very successful in the past. Supporting the organizations that plan these is very important, and taking it to the streets can make our voices—literally—be heard. 

          Abortion and birth control is so essential for women to be able to have access to as it is a basic form of healthcare and should be considered as such. Women need to stand up to the men in political positions who are making decisions for a woman’s body when they have no business deciding whether or not a woman can get an abortion. Misogyny and misogynistic behavior that influences these decisions needs to end, and the only way the decision-makers will understand what it is like is if we appoint more women to office; only about twenty-five percent of the U.S. Congress are women. By giving women these higher tier positions, it is much more likely that laws or bans against abortions and birth control will not pass. By taking action and creating an activism plan, that makes it much easier to accomplish our goals of providing easily accessible, free abortions and birth control to women all over the country.