How the Next President Can Affect Your Reproductive Rights

With the next presidential election just months away, it's time to start thinking seriously about who you want to vote for. One way to start is by looking at the issues. Her Campus is here to bring you everything you need to know on one of the most important issues (that is surely on every candidate's agenda): reproductive rights.

Even if you think you've found yourself a candidate, it's time to look closely at their stances and figure out exactly who is best for you—especially when it comes to your body and your health. 

What are reproductive rights?

Reproductive rights are basically fundamental human rights. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, every woman has the right to reproductive health and autonomy. Reproductive rights have two main themes: Choice and Access.

Individuals and couples should have the right to choose when, how and whether they have children or do not have children. They should also have the access to privacy, health centers, family support, medicine and knowledge. In the fight for this cause, Amnesty International posted an animation on reproductive rights to explain what the implications are when individuals do not get to choose when and how they have sex.

Where does the U.S. stand on reproductive rights?

Although the United States is a developed and progressive country, we're still fighting for reproductive rights. Feminist groups have indeed come a long way from the early 20th century. However, there are still plenty of limitations on reproductive rights here in the U.S. Politicians, who are mostly white men, are finding their own ways to restrict women in their decisions on what to do with their own bodies.

Abortion

According to the GuttMacher Institute, state legislatures across the South, Midwest and the Plains enacted 58 abortion restrictions. One study found that because of an inability to access safe abortions, 100,000 to 240,000 Texas women ages 18-49 have attempted to perform an abortion on themselves—which is extremely risky and can even be deadly.

Arkansas has also seriously limited abortion. The state requires two in-person trips to a clinic before a woman can obtain an abortion. The first trip is an anti-abortion counseling appointment. Let’s also not forget about the Trump Administration's 2017 Mexico City Policy which stops funding to organizations like Planned Parenthood

Paid family leave

CNN reported that nearly 25 percent of women go back to work within two weeks off having a baby. Why? They simply can’t afford to stay out on leave longer than that.

The United States is one of the few countries in the world with no federal paid-maternity-leave law—the other two are Papua New Guinea, Suriname, Oman and a few South Pacific island nationas. While four states in the nation have enacted laws to provide some sort of paid maternity leave, much of the United States has not. States are starting to budge on the issue, but for now there’s still a lot of work to be done. 

Sexual assault

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network reported that every 73 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. 

Women in particular are at an extreme risk of sexual assault, sexual violence and rape. Ninety percent of adult rape victims are women. One out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. While on campus, women ages 18-24 are three times more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence.

This is a huge part of reproductive rights. When a woman or a man cannot decide how and when they have sex, their human rights are impeded.

Birth control

Birth control, or contraceptives, are pretty widely used in the U.S. More than 99 percent of women ages 15-44 have used at least one contraceptive method, while more than 60 percent are currently using birth control, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Thanks to Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, birth control must be entirely covered by insurance—therefore, those with insurance can obtain free birth control.

There are some states who have fought for “refusal clauses” or “conscience clauses” for pharmacists and doctors who think that contraceptives are against their religion. For example, the Catholic Church has taken a hard stance against unnatural family planning and abortion. The church believes that synthetic contraception is sinful and wrong. Ironically, 87 percent of catholic women use a method other than natural family planning. Regardless of religion and beliefs, women everywhere are embracing their sexuality and the increased choice they have in enjoying it without worrying about children. 

OK, so I think I understand reproductive rights. But where do the candidates stand?

Naturally, the Democratic candidates are going to have more liberal views surrounding reproductive rights, while the Republican party will mostly remain conservative. This is why it's so important to filter your views in order to find the correct candidate that will be a great fit for our country. Reproductive rights ultimately affect us all, not just women.