The 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade made it illegal for states to ban or restrict abortion, but that hasn’t stopped them from trying. Not only can that landmark decision be reversed—a prospect made all the more possible by the current Supreme Court vacancy—but lawmakers are hard at work trying to make it so hard to get an abortion, the procedure is practically banned from some areas. In some parts of the country, geographic, financial, and emotional hurdles make it nearly impossible for some women to get the care they need. If you don’t live in rural America, it might be hard to imagine life without your friendly neighborhood Planned Parenthood. But that is the reality for thousands of American women, and it’s a particularly heavy burden for poor and minority women. Since 2010, state legislatures have passed more than 275 laws regulating abortion providers. Clinics are being forced to take their case to court, and some have no option but to close. As a result, women are being forced to carry unviable pregnancies to term, deliver stillborn babies, seek out dangerous back alley abortions, and start families before they’re financially or emotionally ready.
Abortion access is such a major issue for American women and families, but did you know it also affects our economy? When a woman can’t plan for the family she wants, it affects her ability to “participate equally in the economic and social life of the nation.” (SCOTUS)
We vote because we want lawmakers who support our right to choose.
An abortion, not to mention a child, is much more expensive than contraception. But when women can’t afford basic reproductive healthcare, they face extremely difficult choices.The inability to pay for contraception has a real impact on women’s lives and futures. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists supports access to FDA-approved contraceptives for all women, and so do we.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, the typical American woman wants only two children, which means she’ll need to use contraceptives for roughly three decades. Whichever method she chooses, the cost of contraception can be considerable, especially for young women and those living at or below the poverty line. Having children is expensive for women, their families, and our country. Every dollar we invest in helping women avoid pregnancies saves $7.09 in Medicaid expenditures.
But despite the economic security and health benefits that successful family planning provides, there are people who don’t believe our government or businesses should support this important aspect of women’s health. The Affordable Care Act ensures that insurance covers all FDA-approved contraceptive methods. However, religious organizations challenged that mandate and in May 2016, the split Supreme Court announced it would not rule on a major case related to the issue: Zubik v. Burwell. By sending the case back to the lower courts, the Supreme Court failed to affirm women’s statutory right to seamless contraceptive coverage without cost-sharing or interference by an employer. This is not the last time women’s right to affordable contraception will be challenged or insufficiently defended.
We need a full bench, and we need the justices to rule in support of women. The next President will decide who fills that empty seat, and your vote will make the difference.