Eight years ago, I stood shoulder to shoulder with a line of more than a thousand people outside the Virginia State Capitol, all of us in opposition to a bill intended to make it harder for Virginians to get an abortion. I was eight months pregnant and outraged. Anti-abortion politicians had control of the Virginia governor’s mansion and both state legislative chambers, and for years, they passed law after law taking away Virginians’ reproductive rights.
But now, everything’s changed.
I have an eight-year-old daughter, and am watching the next chapter in Virginia’s state history not with outrage—but with joy. Pro-reproductive health lawmakers came into power in both chambers in November, and today they reclaimed our rights and passed the Reproductive Health Protection Act, repealing the laws that made abortion inaccessible.
Virginia shows us what’s at stake nationally in 2020—and how voting can actually change policies.
I’ve worked at Planned Parenthood for all of Trump’s presidency, so I’ve gotten an up-close view at how Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and their buddies in Congress and statehouses across the country have ignored the will of the American people and incessantly worked to attack our health and rights—including access to safe, legal abortion.
Just last year, state politicians enacted 25 abortion bans in their quest to outlaw abortion. Yet there is no state in the nation where making abortion illegal is popular. Mitch McConnell and Republican senators have packed the courts with nearly 200 Trump-appointed judges, many of whom have records hostile towards abortion rights. The Trump administration forced Planned Parenthood out of Title X, the only national program dedicated to affordable birth control, and gagged doctors participating in the program from sharing information about abortion with their patients. This summer, the Supreme Court will rule on two cases—one that could allow your employer to deny you birth control coverage, and one that could render the protections of Roe v. Wade meaningless.
There is no state in the nation where making abortion illegal is popular.
In times like these, it’s hard not to feel powerless.
But we felt the same way in Virginia in 2012. Our wins at the ballot box when we elected a Democratic governor and flipped both chambers were a decade in the making—that’s right, a *decade* of Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC and countless other partner organizations tirelessly organizing to elect champions for reproductive rights. It took fierce, relentless resistance to win back our rights.
And in 2018, women and Planned Parenthood supporters showed up to the polls in record numbers and flipped the House, electing the largest reproductive rights majority in history. The message from voters to politicians is clear: When you interfere in personal medical decisions and try to control our bodies, you lose your job.
This year, Planned Parenthood advocacy and political organizations launched the largest effort in our history to elect reproductive rights champions to all levels of government. We’re organizing an army of volunteers, lifting up candidates who will fight for our rights, and hustling to get voters to the polls.
Anti-abortion politicians understand their days are numbered—so they’re coming after our health care while they still can. Last month the Trump administration restored federal funding to Texas for a program that bars certain Medicaid patients from getting care at Planned Parenthood health centers. Days later, the administration took aim at California for requiring health insurance plans to cover abortion, threatening retaliatory action if the state didn’t reverse their policy. And a few weeks ago, the administration paved the way for states to seek approval to make massive cuts to Medicaid.
When you interfere in personal medical decisions and try to control our bodies, you lose your job.
Protecting women’s reproductive rights can’t be done without you. It’s time to hit the pavement and talk to your neighbors about what is at stake. Find a campaign that’s important to you and volunteer, whether you’re making phone calls or knocking on doors. Register to vote, help register your friends, and organize in your community. Speak out and correct the misinformation we know anti-abortion politicians will be trying to spread in their effort to ban access to safe, legal abortion. If you’re able, donate to organizations and candidates who can take our country in the right direction. Most of all, we need to make our voices heard to anti-abortion politicians: We will not stand for anyone who jeopardizes our right to make our own reproductive health decisions—including whether or not to have an abortion.
The bottom line? A moment of reckoning is fast approaching for the politicians who think they have the right to tell us what we can and can’t do with our bodies. Because they may have the power today—but we vote, we decide, and November is coming.
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