It is clear that our most sacred rights and freedoms are in danger. A vocal minority that doesn’t reflect the will of the people is tying our hands behind our backs. This vocal minority is working to roll back two of our most fundamental freedoms—the freedom to vote and reproductive freedom. As a result, nothing less than our democracy itself is at risk.
All across the country, extremist politicians are working harder than ever to undermine our right to vote in their never-ending quest for political gain. We already know they will resort to any low maneuver—from disseminatingdf dangerous disinformation to attacking our country and our Capitol—to get their way. Last year, lawmakers in 19 states passed 33 laws restricting our freedom to make our voices heard and our votes reflected, and more are likely to come as legislatures reconvene in 2022.
Our democracy is in a state of crisis, and there is simply no time to waste before taking action. The Senate must find a path forward to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, which would protect access to the ballot box, end dark money, stop partisan gerrymandering, and protect our elections from partisan sabotage. It would fight back against all of these state attacks and ensure the ability of every American to participate in safe, accessible, and transparent elections. Failure to pass this legislation is not an option; the price of inaction is simply too great.
From where I sit—at the helm of an organization that has been fighting for abortion access in the United States for more than 50 years—it’s clear that the same state legislators who are attacking voting rights are pushing ever-more-extreme bans and restrictions on abortion rights and access.
The anti-choice movement and those working to construct barriers to the ballot box are one and the same, united around white supremacy. These bad actors know that these two issues are connected—and so do we.
We cannot realize a world where each and every one of us has true reproductive freedom unless we also secure our freedom to vote. It is not only a moral imperative to protect voting rights; it is absolutely essential to electing champions at every level who will block attacks on reproductive freedom and expand access to abortion care. We know that eight in 10 Americans—the vast majority of people in this country—support the legal right to abortion. But we cannot elect leaders who represent our values without ensuring that Americans can safely and freely cast their ballots.
That’s why the anti-choice movement has gone all in on investing in anti-voter efforts. By deliberately blocking access to the ballot box and working to dismantle our democracy, they hope they can continue to uphold the white, patriarchal power that fuels their movement.
It’s not a coincidence that communities of color are disproportionately disenfranchised by these efforts—it’s the point.
Ensuring that Congress immediately passes voting rights legislation has never been more important. The US Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority is poised to undo the constitutional right to abortion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, and a decision is expected during the height of the midterm election.
If Roe falls, the ramifications would be devastating. At least 26 states would likely take action to prohibit abortion outright. That means we could see abortion banned in more than half of the states in our country. In the state of Texas, where abortion is already severely restricted, advocates are seeing pregnant people forced to carry pregnancies to term against their will and are anticipating an increase in pregnancy-related deaths as a result. “Many of these women are struggling to just sustain themselves or their families,” Cerita Burrell of the reproductive justice organization the Afiya Center recently told journalist Mary Tuma.
Voters are watching the Dobbs case closely—in fact, polls increasingly show that reproductive freedom is a key issue and vote-driver. Voters are ready to hold their elected officials accountable for their actions to either safeguard reproductive freedom or strip away abortion access in response to the court’s decision.
So, senators, you know what you need to do. Don’t put yourself on the wrong side of history. If you fail to stand up for our democracy at this critical juncture, we will hold you to account for putting our rights on the line. It’s time to swiftly pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. And, with reproductive freedom on the line like never before, the Senate must also pass the Women’s Health Protection Act to protect the right to abortion across the country and improve access to care. We cannot allow any barriers, let alone arcane procedural rules, to block its passage.
Our country and our democracy face an existential crisis—which is why the reproductive health, rights, and justice movements are unified in our call to change the rules to enact voting rights. Time is running out, and our fundamental freedom to make decisions about our families and lives has never been more in peril.