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Opinion: This is the year to flip control of the Senate and protect reproductive rights

Earlier this month the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision on the major birth control case Trump v. Pennsylvania, giving the go-ahead to a new Trump administration rule allowing virtually any employer or university to declare itself exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s landmark requirement that health insurers cover birth control without co-pays.  

The decision shines a glaring spotlight on what the radical right’s agenda really is about: Controlling women and our ability to determine our futures.

It even goes so far as to take away our freedom to access birth control, which is overwhelmingly popular and more critical than ever in the midst of a global pandemic.

Caroline Mello Roberson

The ruling also serves as a stark reminder that electing a majority in the U.S. Senate that supports reproductive freedom is critical for safeguarding our fundamental freedoms and expanding access to needed care, especially for communities most impacted by COVID-19. 

The upcoming November election presents a critical opportunity for Coloradans to turn out in support of reproductive freedom and fight back against the racist, anti-choice, anti-freedom agenda being pushed by Donald Trump and his cronies in the Senate.

And with the confirmations of Trump’s two nominees, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, to the Supreme Court, the stakes for our freedoms are higher than ever. Trump’s judicial picks are beholden to the anti-choice movement that has buoyed their careers and have demonstrated their willingness to overturn precedent if it suits their ideological agenda. 

But we can’t forget who put them on the court in the first place. Sen. Cory Gardner has spent the past three years serving as a rubber stamp for Trump’s extreme agenda, voting to confirm dozens of anti-choice judges and cement a conservative majority on the highest court in the land.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

These radical right ideologues are hostile to Roe v. Wade and determined to end the right to abortion, no matter the costs. And Gardner’s extremism doesn’t end with his judicial appointments — during his time in the Senate he has voted to ban abortion and to defund Planned Parenthood by disqualifying the organization from participating in federal health care programs. 

While Gardner continues to demonstrate just how out-of-touch he is with the majority of Coloradans who support the right to abortion, anti-choice lawmakers have launched an all-out assault on our reproductive freedom in hopes that a challenge will make its way to the Supreme Court and lead to the rollback of Roe.

With more than 20 cases in the pipeline challenging the landmark case and an anti-choice majority on the bench thanks to Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, this is a real possibility.

Because there’s no law expressly protecting the right to abortion in Colorado, if Roe were to be overturned, this time-sensitive and needed care could quickly become criminalized. Such a move would not only strip Coloradans of their reproductive freedom, it would undoubtedly exacerbate the unjust persecution of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) — a crisis that has already reached epidemic proportions. 

Just last month, anti-choice activists in Colorado pushed through a cruel ballot initiative that would deny doctors and patients the ability to consider all the options if complications arise during a pregnancy and open the door to additional restrictions on abortion care.

These sorts of restrictions disproportionately harm people of color, people with low-incomes, and those living in rural areas — and make the right to abortion a right in name only for many. 

Given that Coloradans have already rejected similar bans at the ballot box three times, the anti-choice movement’s efforts to advance this abortion ban during the COVID-19 pandemic — a time when we should be prioritizing the health, safety and wellbeing of women and families — shows there’s no low they won’t sink to in pursuit of their extreme ideological agenda.

Fortunately, Coloradans will have the opportunity to reject both Gardner and this ballot initiative come November. Gardner’s opponent, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, is a proven leader committed to safeguarding reproductive freedom, having played a critical role in advancing reforms to help expand access to reproductive health care in the state.

As governor, he signed legislation that allows people to get 12-month birth control prescriptions, increased funding for clinics that serve low-income and uninsured women and oversaw a comprehensive plan to expand access to long-acting reversible contraception.

Hickenlooper’s record expanding access to contraception is particularly notable given the Supreme Court’s birth control ruling. It should go without saying, but your boss should never be able to interfere with the care you receive — and the last thing people need in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic are additional out-of-pocket health care costs. 

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

As our fundamental freedoms hang in the balance, we’re reminded of the Senate’s narrow confirmation of Kavanaugh in 2018 and everything that’s on the line in 2020. This is, and has to be, our year to flip control of the Senate to a majority in support of reproductive freedom and take back the White House from an anti-choice ideological extremist.

Whether it’s on the steps of the Supreme Court, at the ballot box, or within the halls of Congress, we must continue fighting to ensure that every body has the freedom to control their own lives, bodies, and futures, free from political interference.   


Caroline Mello Roberson is Southwest Regional Director for NARAL Pro-Choice America.


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