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Liberal lawmakers pledge to protect reproductive rights following election

November 14, 2016 — Liberal lawmakers in the House and Senate are working to protect reproductive rights during the upcoming congressional session, Rewire reports (Grimaldi, Rewire, 11/10).

Background

On Tuesday, Donald Trump won the presidential election, while conservative lawmakers won the majority of seats in the House and Senate and two-thirds of state governorships.

During his campaign, Trump pledged to appoint antiabortion-rights justices to the Supreme Court and defund Planned Parenthood. In addition, Trump said he would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (PL 111-148), under which almost all insurance plans are required to cover all birth control approved by the Food and Drug Administration, including intrauterine devices (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/14).

According to Rewire, following the election, conservative lawmakers in the House "are all but certain" to reintroduce multiple abortion-rights restrictions to coincide with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. In the 114th Congress, conservative lawmakers in the House proposed measures to codify the Hyde Amendment, while conservative lawmakers in both the House and Senate proposed measures to ban a medically proven method of abortion care.

Lawmakers promise to combat efforts targeting reproductive rights

In an email to Rewire, an aide to a liberal leader in the Senate said liberal lawmakers during the 115th Congress "will be completely unified under the Senate in beating back any attempts to curtail reproductive rights."

Liberal lawmakers in the House also expressed hope about protecting reproductive rights, with one aide pointing out that voters on Tuesday quadrupled the number of senators who are women of color, all of whom support abortion rights. According to Rewire, these new senators represent "the very same group that anchors the reproductive justice movement and shoulders disproportionate consequences from [antiabortion-rights] policies."

The House aide said, "Providing these sorts of perspectives" in the Senate will be crucial to "one, create a resistance to [antiabortion-rights measures], and two, look toward opportunities in the future." Adding that women of color also won several seats in the House, the aide continued, "The people who won are progressive."

Further, the aide explained that based on the elections, liberal "margins should improve in the committees -- for Hyde, specifically, we might get another [liberal lawmaker] on the Appropriations Committee."

According to Destiny Lopez, co-director of the All* Above All campaign, the Committee on Appropriations will likely tackle many reproductive-rights related issues. For example, in 2016, conservative lawmakers in the House targeted Teen Pregnancy Prevention grants and Title X family planning services in the 2017 Labor, Health, and Human Services funding measure. Further, in an ongoing House-Senate deadlock, conservative lawmakers are using the National Defense Authorization Act to end nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation and women's reproductive health care decisions.

Lopez said, "So much of this comes to a head in the budgeting process." She added, "We will need to, as a community, also be very clear with the new administration where we stand vis-à-vis the President's budget and then work with the House and Senate on their budgets to ensure that our voice is heard and we provide that shield where we should."

Regarding advocacy efforts, Lopez said reproductive justice groups will continue to organize grassroots efforts. "We need to do that, and we need to continue to stand with folks fighting for racial justice, fair wages, environmental justice, tribal sovereignty," she said.

Separately, Kierra Johnson, executive director of URGE and member of All* Above All's steering committee, said, "We know we've got a fight ahead of us, and we're committed to engaging in it. We're going to work like hell to continue to move the needle on repealing Hyde, and we're going to be even more ferocious in our fight for justice at the state level" (Rewire, 11/10).