As of late, the political sphere has been a dark, dark space. In the past few weeks, a series of harsh laws have been passed across the United States, limiting Americans' access to necessary reproductive health services. (opens in new tab)In states including Georgia (opens in new tab), Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, and Ohio (opens in new tab), abortions are illegal once a fetal heartbeat can be detected—Alabama took the restrictions even further when its governor signed legislation that completely criminalized abortion (opens in new tab) in the state, with no exceptions for rape and incest.
With these these draconian laws being signed just one year before the highly anticipated 2020 presidential election, one can't help but wonder where all 26 of the announced candidates (opens in new tab) stand on the issue at hand. How will the next commander-in-chief effectively protect reproductive rights and ensure the safety and agency of women's bodies across the country?
Well, if he's voted president, Cory Booker has a number of things in mind.
Earlier today, the New Jersey senator shared a comprehensive plan to restore and further protect reproductive rights should he become the 46th President of the Unites States. Booker pledges that his first executive order will include policies that will aggressively safeguard reproductive health. His proposal includes a plan to codify landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade into federal law, as well as several initiatives dedicated to making reproductive healthcare more readily available to those who need it. Per the plan, Booker will sign legislation that will provide federal funding for family planning and increase access to contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Additionally, his first presidential budget will do away with the Hyde Amendment (opens in new tab), a law barring the use of federal Medicaid funds for abortion except when the life of the woman would be endangered by carrying the pregnancy to term. Booker would be the first president in 20 years to propose a presidential budget that intentionally ends the Hyde Amendment.
"My goal with these actions isn’t just to undo the damage the Trump administration and Republican state legislatures and governors have caused," says Senator Booker, "But to affirmatively advance reproductive rights and expand access to reproductive care for all.”
The senator's stance on reproductive rights is in direct opposition to that of the current president, who took to Twitter just a few days ago to reassert his conservative position. "As most people know, and for those who would like to know, I am strongly Pro-Life, with the three exceptions—Rape, Incest and protecting the Life of the mother—the same position taken by Ronald Reagan,” President Trump shared over the social media platform. His far-right perspective has resulted in various national and even global efforts by his administration to curb access to sex education, contraception, and abortion, including the reallocation of funding (opens in new tab) from sex ed programs to curriculum that promotes abstinence and the re-institution of the "global gag rule," (opens in new tab) holding back financial support from NGOs that align themselves with abortion in any way.
Booker vehemently disagrees with these policies and would seek to upend them in the first few days of his presidency. While the Trump administration has totally ignored the facts of what actually helps prevent teen pregnancy in favor of promoting abstinence, the New Jersey senator understands that comprehensive sex education (which discusses the full range of health care options, as well consent) is key—as president, he promises to restore evidence-based guidelines for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. Booker also wants to end the global gag rule and restore funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), an organization that provides aid for family planning and child and maternal health around the world.
As the 2020 presidential election grows nearer by the day, we look forward to learning if and how the rest of the candidates (especially the men (opens in new tab)) plan to tackle reproductive health. The stakes are higher than ever, and we need candidates who believe that reproductive rights are civil rights—they must be protected.
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