How Amy Coney Barrett Joining the Supreme Court Might Affect Your Health

As the results of the Presidential Election come in, Amy Coney Barrett was appointed and confirmed to the United States Supreme Court as Supreme Court Justice. It became clear on October 26th that, after a 52-48 vote in the Senate, the Senate Republicans got their way. Trump nominated Barrett a mere eight days following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death and only weeks before the 2020 presidential election, despite the fact that in 2016 Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court Justice nominee for a full 11 months for being “too close to an election.” Photo by Jackie Boylhart on Unsplash

Amy Coney Barrett's judicial confirmation will give conservative judges an overwhelming six out of the nine seats on the Supreme Court and, as these are lifetime appointments, this confirmation will impact the Court’s decisions, subsequent legislation, human rights as a whole and the democratic process in general for decades to come. Now comes the daunting question: what does this really mean for American citizens? 

Reproductive Health:

This confirmation of Barrett has made one thing clear: the case of Roe v. Wade, giving women the right to choose whether or not they want to have an abortion, will be under serious threat as she follows the conservative philosophy of “originalism,” or reading the constitution as it was written, with no room for current context or interpretation. This view is often held by conservatives as legal justification to push back against liberal decisions involving civil rights and the federal government’s power, negatively affecting our Supreme Court’s rulings on present-day social, political and human rights issues by narrowing the scope and understanding of the law.

Reproductive health in the United States has been better equipped and accessible to women after Roe v. Wade, and polls have consistently found that a majority of Americans want to keep the 1973 Supreme Court decision, which legalized abortion in the United States. Before this case, almost a quarter of pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths, not to mention unreported ones, were caused by illegal abortions for women who were not given the legal right to choose. This injustice is what will resurface if Barret gets her way. Thousands of people a year who seek abortions will be criminalized, potentially facing prison time for a self-managed abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth, or other pregnancy outcomes. Barrett does not believe in women taking their reproductive healthcare into their own hands, making women’s health a huge topic of contention with her confirmation. capitol building in D.C. Photo by Caleb Perez from Unsplash

Health Care:

Barrett, again adhering to her strict conservative philosophy, is strongly against the Affordable Care Act, put into place by the Obama administration, and will most definitely rule against the act when the Court hears a challenge to Democrats’ signature healthcare law just a week after the election. Overturning the ACA could have profound impacts on our nation’s health, and Barret’s vote could be the deciding factor. If the ACA were to be overturned, the number of uninsured people in the US would increase by roughly 20 million, and people with the lowest incomes would be especially negatively impacted without the Medicaid expansion adopted by 34 states.

Although legal experts say it’s uncertain how Barrett would rule in this or future challenges to the ACA, her conservative views are aligned with her co-Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. Even though she states she will “faithfully apply the law,” eliminating the ACA would remove the law’s protections for the estimated one in two (129 million) Americans with preexisting conditions, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, not to mention the fact that Democrats argue insurers could even deem COVID-19 a “preexisting condition,” eliminating insurance for over 8 million Americans diagnosed with the condition to-date.

Furthermore, even if the Affordable Care Act does not get overturned, women’s reproductive health care will, again, be at risk as Barrett may rule that employers do not have to offer their employees contraceptive coverage as a part of their healthcare plans. This means that the 55 million women accessing birth control through the ACA will be in danger of losing this basic right of control over their bodies. As Barrett is against the 1965 Supreme Court ruling of Griswold v. Connecticut, the case that legalized contraception in the United States, she is also part of an anti-choice organization and has been quoted as denoting all forms of contraceptives “unacceptable.” Photo by visuals on Unsplash

So, in the long run, what does this mean for our nation? At this point, our best bet as citizens of this democracy is to use our voices, exercise our rights and let our passions, opinions and viewpoints be heard. While this decision may warrant some unwanted and unneeded issues for our democracy, there are things we can do to keep our rights intact. Most importantly, get educated, continue to use your voice and vote!