Recent election results in Kentucky, Ohio and Virginia were more than just victories for abortion rights. They are part of a larger conversation about public health and the need for government to ensure Americans have access to quality, affordable and equitable health care.
Abortion care is health care, and when people vote to protect public health, everyone wins.
This is also the theme of next year’s election.
Activists are working to get abortion rights initiatives on the ballot in 2024 in Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Nebraska and South Dakota. But these aren’t the only public health measures before voters.
In California, for example, Gov. Gavin Newsom is putting transformation of the state’s mental health system on the March 2024 ballot — a $6.38 billion proposal to build behavioral Healthy housing and treatment facilities. He wants to get people off the streets, out of tents and into treatment.
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Advocates in Alaska, Nebraska and Missouri are gathering petitions to put paid sick leave on the ballot.
Our right to healthy living is clearly at risk. Abortion care and contraceptives are under threat and they are linked to the economy, family life and education.
Women who lack access to abortion care are four times more likely to live below the federal poverty line. They are more likely to face high debt, eviction and other financial hardships, according to the UCSF Turnaway study. This study is the first to collect high-quality research on the physical and social consequences of unintended pregnancy for women who refuse abortion care.
Prior to this study, most research focused on whether abortion causes mental health problems, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, or drug and alcohol abuse. This leads to hard-line attitudes and false assumptions that are not supported by evidence. Tenaway research shows that 95% of women say abortion is the right decision for them after more than five years.
We must focus on the facts about abortion care rather than scare tactics, junk science, or misinformation by adding a public health perspective to our political views.
This is the challenge in 2024, brought into focus by the 2023 elections.
We need to change the political landscape in states where restrictive reproductive health policies have led to an increase in the number of low-birth-weight babies. The United States already has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world — with the highest rates among states with abortion restrictions.
We need elections on issues like this that have a real impact on people’s lives.
Women Denied Abortion Care More Likely
- Serious complications occur in late pregnancy, including eclampsia and death.
- Stay with your abuser.
- Suffering from anxiety and loss of self-esteem
- Poor physical health in the years after pregnancy, including chronic pain and gestational hypertension.
Denying abortion can also have serious consequences for children born from unwanted pregnancies, as well as existing children in the family.
Economists show that expansion of legal abortion Roe v. Wade Teenage birthrates have dropped by one-third, and teenage marriage rates have dropped by one-fifth. They show how access to abortion care increases the likelihood that adolescent women of color will graduate from high school and attend college.
It seems unbelievable that one’s bodily autonomy is so fundamental that we sometimes even have to defend it. However, women’s independence, freedom, access to health care and other rights are increasingly politicized.
This is the last thing we need. Public health is fundamental to the way we live and our hopes for the future. That’s what we’ll be campaigning for in 2024.
Nunez is president of the National Organization for Women. She wrote this article for InsideSources.com.