In Arkansas, Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes has seen no shortage of attacks from the legislature on the reproductive and sexual health care it provides. From medically unnecessary legislation that limits access to abortion care to the questioning of whether or not procedural, or surgical, abortion should be considered an “essential service” during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen politicians make numerous attempts to roll back the rights of Arkansans.
Now, just a week before the final day to vote in the 2020 election — an election where tens of millions of Americans have already voted — the rights of Arkansans are at risk again.
With the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, a Trump-appointed judge who has vocally decried marriage equality, abortion care and the Affordable Care Act, the reality of what sexual and reproductive health care looks like for much of the country will change drastically. A Supreme Court with Justice Barrett will lean heavily toward an anti-science, anti-abortion ideology.
An anti-abortion Supreme Court could be disastrous for access to care in Arkansas. Currently, a trigger ban is in effect that would immediately make abortion illegal if Roe v. Wade is overturned. With 17 cases regarding abortion access potentially headed to the Supreme Court in the very near future, that reality is closer than ever before.
We know that abortion care is universally supported, in Arkansas and in every state: More than 77 percent of Americans support access to abortion. We know that the Affordable Care Act allows millions of Americans to access health insurance and the care they need and deserve. We know that the beliefs of a few individuals should not mean the denial of rights for millions.
We must vote like our health care and rights are on the line, because they are. This vacancy and the November election will have life and death consequences for millions of people across the country; people with low incomes, Black and Brown people and women will continue to shoulder the heaviest burdens.
I do not believe that Justice Coney Barrett should have been appointed to the Supreme Court. The rushed confirmation process — a mere 40 days after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — came during an election that is already well underway, and amidst a deadly global pandemic. This was not the time to install a lifetime appointee to our country’s highest court.
But, like most people reading this, it was not my decision to make. What I can do, as the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, is continue the fight in our four-state region to protect access to care, and to keep health care available so that all Arkansans are able to see a provider when they need to, no matter what.
Any politician who voted to fill this seat declared themselves against your health care, your civil and reproductive rights, and your ability to determine your future. Now is the time to take action: Fight back, make a voting plan, and elect new leadership who will represent all voices.
Dr. Brandon Hill is president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Great Plains in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.