Reproductive Health in Today’s U.S. Politics

Published: 03-13-2024 | 2 MIN READ | Author: Prism Health North Texas

2024 is an election year in the United States and few issues fire up people on both sides of the aisle in the way reproductive rights do. Although there are what seem like quieter times, topics like abortion rights, access to contraception, sex education, and maternal healthcare are discussed regularly within the US government. Discussions surrounding reproductive health policies have been debated for decades, reflecting the ideological, ethical, and religious viewpoints of the people citizens vote into office. In honor of the upcoming election and Women’s History Month, let’s look at how politics and reproductive health overlap by shaping legislation and impacting the lives of people across the United States.

Sex Education:

Sex education policies vary widely across states and are managed by local school boards. This can reflect divides among parents in districts that have contrasting views on how big of a role schools should have in sexual education. Advocates for comprehensive sex education emphasize the importance of evidence-based curricula that provide information on contraception, STI prevention, consent, and healthy relationships. Proponents of abstinence-only education prioritize promoting no sexual relations until marriage and often do not address topics concerning contraception or LGBTQIA+ issues. The efficiency of both approaches in reducing unintended pregnancies and promoting sexual health remains an ongoing debate.

Access to Contraception:

Access to affordable and comprehensive contraception (or birth control) is a critical issue of reproductive health policy that affects citizens of all genders. Efforts to expand access to contraception, including through insurance coverage mandates and initiatives like Title X family planning programs, have been argued by conservative lawmakers and religious organizations. Debates over contraceptive coverage mandates under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), exemptions for religious employers, and funding for family planning services show how often public health objectives and religious freedoms clash.

Maternal Healthcare:

Access to quality maternal healthcare services for women of all backgrounds is essential for advancing maternal health and decreasing maternal mortality rates. Disparities in maternal health outcomes, particularly among minority and low-income communities, highlight systemic inequities in access to prenatal care, maternal health screenings, and postpartum support services. Efforts are being made to address these disparities through Medicaid expansion, maternity care initiatives, and programs focused on maternal mortality reduction. These actions are important in red states like Texas where maternal mortality rates remain consistently high.

Abortion Rights:

Abortion rights have consistently been at the forefront of the women’s reproductive health debate. In 1973, the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade established a woman’s constitutional right to access abortion. However, since the decision, Roe v. Wade has faced endless challenges from anti-abortion advocates, and the landmark ruling was overturned in 2022. Since the overturning, state-level legislation imposing restrictions such as gestational limits and targeted regulation on abortion providers has increased as many red states move to make abortion illegal.

Reproductive rights, especially those of women, will be a key component for voters this November. The political front runners, Joe Biden and Donald Trump have made statements regarding the issues. These decisions must be made by encouraging informed dialogue, respecting diverse perspectives, and advocating for policies centered on public health and human rights. These measures will help us work towards a society in which health decisions are respected, protected, and accessible to all.

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Author: Prism Health North Texas

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