Voting Rights as a Reproductive Justice Issue
Everybody who is of voting age has the right to register to vote, vote in an election, and have their votes accurately tallied. It might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about it, but voting rights are an important part of reproductive health, rights, and justice. Marcela Howell, President and CEO of In Our Own Voice, the National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, sits down with us to discuss why exercising your right to vote is critical in achieving reproductive justice for all.
Due to caveats within voting laws during and after the suffrage movement, black women’s right to vote continued to be oppressed for years. While promised in both the 15th and 19th amendments, it wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that black women and men gained the right to vote.
Currently, the Republican Party is working steadily to alienate voters. Some of the tactics include voter purging, voter ID laws, signature matching on absentee ballots, and moving or closing polling places. This voter fraud works to totally disenfranchise black people, immigrants who are eligible to vote, and young people. H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2019, would help secure and protect the right to vote.
Reproductive justice is a human rights frame that says there is intersectional ability to be in control of your body, your health, your sex life, and your family. To be in control of that, you have to be able to vote for candidates, vote to remove candidates from office, and vote for or against initiatives that may threaten or support reproductive freedom.
Voting isn’t just reserved for presidential elections or Congress. When you vote for initiatives, state legislatures, mayors, governors, city council members, or judges, it make a major difference.
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