It’s been a rough month—er, four years, lifetime?—for feminists. First, hearts sank nationwide when the trailblazing, iconic Ruth Bader Ginsberg lost her cancer battle on September 18. And then on former Secretary of State and presidential candidate, Hilary Clinton’s birthday, the United States Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett into the supreme court. With this quick move, the nation’s highest order has become overwhelmingly conservative, with a 6 to 3 imbalance. Many liberals are frightened for the country’s future since, currently, justices serve for a lifetime. And Barrett is only 48 years old, making her the youngest woman ever to be sworn into this coveted spot. Though, of course, we can’t predict the future (2020 has taught us that 10 times over), it’s worthwhile to educate yourself on what’s at stake with Barrett’s confirmation.
As women, activists, members or allies of the LGBTQ+ community, and humans who believe healthcare should be a right for all, there is plenty at stake now. Here, we dig into the facts so you can prepare yourself for any potential outcome.
Many people who are voting to re-elect Donald Trump or those who were in favor of Barrett’s swift move into the Supreme Court consider themselves pro-life. This means they support a nationwide, federal end to abortion practices. It’s impossible to generalize everyone who identifies as pro-life and anti-abortion, much like it’s difficult to classify the reasons why a person identifies as pro-choice. The issue with Barrett’s addition to the Supreme Court is that it poses a real threat to Roe v. Wade, a paramount case that gave women full permission over their bodies, providing the right to choose to abort a fetus. Currently, states have different degrees of regulation when it comes to abortion practices, with some requiring women to watch a video or hear a heartbeat before going forward with the procedure.
There are currently 15 cases (and counting) that could make their way up to the Supreme Court and allow the justices to bring Roe v. Wade back into the discussion. Should this happen, they could overturn it completely, allowing individual governments to decide their own course of action or impose restrictions that would limit abortion access. On the topic of abortion, Barett is a staunch conservative and a practicing Catholic. Historically, those who follow Catholicism have been among the most vocal against abortion, alongside fundamental conservative Christians in the South.
Her track record with reproductive cases leans far right, considering she ruled in support of abortion restrictions as a federal judge, including allowing a parent to be informed if their child was considering terminating a pregnancy. In 2006, there was also an advertisement that called Roe v. Wade a ‘barbaric legacy’—and she signed to say she agreed.
Under federal law, members of the LGBTQ+ community can marry and have their union recognized by the government. It was a landmark decision that provided equality for all, sending feel-good, rainbow-colored vibes throughout the states. Of course, not everyone agreed: mainly conservative Christians who are against gay individuals and couples. While some believe it’s a sin, others may claim to ‘support’ their LGBTQ+ friends but adamantly disagree with what they believe is a choice these friends have made—while praying for their salvation. Barrett hasn’t been a friend to this group of Americans, and she’s been vocal about her own definition of marriage, in that it should only be between a man and a woman.
Barrett once signed a letter that stated there was a significant difference between males and females and that a family could only be built on those heteronormative principles. She also served as a legal fellow for the anti-LGBTQ+ group, Alliance Defending Freedom. During the proceedings to determine her confirmation into the supreme court, senators asked her about some of the most landmark cases for gay rights, including Lawrence v. Texas, United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges. Should appeals be made to these rulings, she said she believed these cases were a “binding precedent that I will faithfully follow if confirmed.” During her hearing, she also said sexual preference and orientation was a choice—not something we are born with—which is the opposite belief of those who identify as LGBTQ+.
We will quickly see firsthand how she truly feels, since there is currently a case on the docket to be reviewed in November. Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, focuses on the government’s right to refuse to work with certain people or agencies. According to the subject’s background, the private agency Catholic Social Services doesn’t work with same-sex couples to be foster parents. When Philadelphia discovered this cornerstone of the company, they ceased working with them. This caused the CSS to sue, saying they breached their contract because of discrimination.
Access to Healthcare
Today, hundreds of millions of Americans benefit from the Affordable Care Act, previously known as Obamacare. However, many conservatives are against any health care program considered even slightly socialist—i.e., funded by taxes, not private insurance. Since she’s now a part of the Supreme Court, she will be part of the debate for California v. Texas, which is putting ACA under fire and scrutiny. It’s based on amendments made by Texax that repealed the individual penalty for not having health insurance and not being part of Obamacare. Then, a few months later, President Trump responded by nipping the tax altogether. Eighteen states believe it’s unconstitutional, and if the justices follow this line of thinking, the law will be omitted entirely. And thus, no one in the country would have access to this form of healthcare protection… in the middle of a global pandemic.
While Barrett said in her confirmation hearing that she “would never discriminate based on sexual preference,” she also called Obamacare a “grave violation of religious freedom and cannot stand.” How come? Well, it goes back to abortion, since she believed the “Obama administration is compelling religious people and institutions who are employers to purchase a health insurance contract that provides abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization.”
How to Take Action
Does this article scare you? It should. If not for yourself, for your friends, family, and greater community who have reason to truly be afraid for their future, their rights, and their health. Though you may feel powerless, remember it is your civic duty to vote. And not only in the presidential election, but all elections, as local and state governments have a significant impact on decisions that impact our daily lives.
You can also donate to campaigns and organizations that support abortion, LGBTQ+ humans, and actively fight against injustices, like Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, NOW For Women, The Trevor Project, and many others. And if you are impassioned, angry, or frustrated, put it in writing! Send letters, emails, and call or text your government officials to push them to make the right choices for all people, no matter what, no exceptions.