The Senate confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court put tens of millions of Americans’ fundamental human rights at risk, and access to sexual and reproductive health care, like birth control and abortion, under extreme and dire threat.
In the wake of a rushed, partisan U.S. Supreme Confirmation process, we need to recognize California has an obligation to ensure we remain a Reproductive Freedom State that’s centered on protecting, and expanding, every person’s ability to access the health care they need.
With Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation, 17 abortion-related cases one step from the Supreme Court, and the Affordable Care Act about to be considered, the future of our health care is on the line. We need California’s current and future elected leaders to work to ensure health-care access is protected within our borders, no matter what happens at the Supreme Court.
While we are fortunate to have laws in California protecting sexual and reproductive health care, including safe, legal abortion, there’s more to be done to create a more equitable and accessible health-care system for Californians. As a leading advocate of sexual and reproductive health care in California, we know that health care means nothing in communities that are not able to access it.
For too long we as a country have underinvested and under-resourced Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities — leading to less access to health care and dramatic health-care disparities. We see these results in the ravages of COVID-19: economic inequality, structural racism, and public health failures have translated to exponentially higher infection and death rates in the Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities.
As Planned Parenthood health centers across the country brace for the national rippling effects of a conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court, compounded with the existing racial disparities within health care access, we need to ensure critical health care systems in California are adequately funded, accessible, and even expanded. In a time of both a public-health crisis and an economic crisis, patients inside and outside of California will be reliant upon safety-net providers and the high-quality, affordable care they provide.
Now, more than ever, we all must stand strong in our convictions to support reproductive freedom.
We need our leaders to expand, not dismantle, health-care access, especially as safety net programs in California will continue to be a critical part of the health-care system.
So, hear this: In the legacy of Justice Ginsburg, we commit to addressing and working to close the disparities within our health-care system, exacerbated by systemic racism and sexism, and advocating for continued investment in California’s safety-net programs.
Not only by fighting to protect the rights Ginsburg fought for — reproductive rights, affordable health care, immigrant justice, workers’ rights, racial equity, gender equity, justice — but working with California’s leaders to close the widening gap between rights and true access.
Jenna Tosh is CEO of Planned Parenthood Central Coast Action Fund.