On election night, I was so stressed I went to sleep at 10 pm; I just couldn’t handle watching the results. It felt like so much was at stake.
Now, weeks later, I am still trying to take in what it all means for our country, for the issues we care about – especially for access to comprehensive reproductive health care. One thing I know is that Congress will look very different in January. Women will make up 23.4% (125 members) of Congress – the highest number ever! And, we elected a very diverse group of women to Congress: Native American women from multiple states, multiple Muslim American women, Latinas from Texas and New York, the first African American women from Massachusetts and Connecticut.
A lot happened at the state level which will be critical for our work. The recent changes to the composition of the Supreme Court have left our right to access abortion more vulnerable than ever. States are taking steps to shore up their laws, one way or another, in anticipation of the erosion of Roe v Wade. Voters in Alabama, Oregon, and West Virginia weighed in on anti-abortion ballot measures. Oregon upheld the state’s abortion protections, but Alabama and West Virginia both passed legislation that will severely restrict access to abortion. With abortion access becoming more and more a state-based issue, it was heartening to see that many states elected pro-reproductive health officials to the governor’s houses and state legislatures.
I spent the days after the election at a planning retreat with my colleagues thinking about how our organization can best fulfill our mission in the years ahead. We charted an exciting, bold path which I will share in an upcoming newsletter. But, suffice it to say that we are focusing our energy and resources to make sure that everyone, everywhere has access to reproductive health care, especially abortion care.
As part of this work, the Reproductive Health Access Project is stepping up our efforts to protect access to reproductive health care. We are part of a coalition of 100+ reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations that outlined a proactive vision of sexual and reproductive health for our lawmakers. Our vision statement, A Call for Change, strongly asserts that “all people should have access to affordable, quality health care and as a part of that, access to health care providers that meet their needs, including their sexual and reproductive health needs.” We will be working in coalition with these organizations to ensure that our federal and state governments work to support this vision.
This work is hard and we are in this for the long haul. I am emboldened by the civic engagement demonstrated in the mid-term elections. People across the country care deeply about our issues and want to take action to make our country a better place. Together we can do it! Thank you for all you do to make this world a better place and for all you do for us! – Lisa Maldonado, MA, MPH, Executive Director