While the leaders in the Democratic Party are finally doing enough to recognize wealth inequality and climate change as the threats that they are, leading presidential candidates are leaving open the question of whether they are truly on the side of protecting a woman’s right to choose.
While Senator Kamala Harris floated great musings about her Medicare for All plan in a CNN Town Hall Monday, she made several omissions, each notable for how fundamental they are to protecting Roe v. Wade and the Constitution. First, she failed to mention the waiting period — the most vital element of a true right to choose. Also, she failed to make clear whether she supports federal funding for all abortions, which would be absolutely fundamental in the struggle to reduce wealth inequality. In addition, in an effort to expand access to a woman’s right to choose — and to be fiscally responsible — it is imperative to reduce inequalities among service providers.
The waiting period is the most fundamental part of protecting a woman’s right to choose. Several Supreme Court rulings affirm that the Constitution requires a 72-hour period after a vaginal fetus discharge to allow a woman to decide whether parenthood is right for her. This waiting period must be at a place of the woman’s choosing, taking into account the traumatic hospital experiences endured by the LGBTQ community. Further, it is important to have peace of mind when making a decision. With so many beaches and national parks, there is no reason why this peace of mind cannot be federally funded and provided to women who have to make the most fundamental decision of their lives.
We must protect the right to choose while reducing wealth inequality. This is why federal funding for all abortions would be a practical investment in our future. Because America has such horrible transportation — unlike socialist countries like Norway — federally-funded women’s health centers should be highly concentrated in minority neighborhoods. This will allow minorities (who studies show do not have access to transportation) to access this fundamental right.
Now, we know what you’re thinking — all this sounds expensive. That much is true. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office shows that each federally-funded abortion would cost approximately $7,400. With a new Medicare for All law covering all 50 states, CBO projects that the cost of each abortion will be reduced by 25% if we simply reduce inequality among service providers. This is a quick, one-step fix to a major flaw in the current law. With a single clause in the new Medicare for All legislation, Congress can reduce service provider fees by allowing high-school apprentices. Additionally, this is an investment in our children’s futures — career training programs have been shown to pay enormous dividends.
I recognize the efforts of Kamala Harris to show support for a woman’s right to choose. Her efforts were woefully inadequate, but by signing on to these modest ideas that protect our most fundamental right, she may be able to rehabilitate her image. Regardless of her fate, the Democratic Party needs to make significant efforts to demonstrate their true loyalty to basic human rights and human dignity.
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