For young people and communities of color, the rapid erosion of abortion rights, voting rights, and other freedoms that we’ve long valued — and maybe even taken for granted — can make us question if we actually have a say in our country.
As a Black woman, I know that this country has never fully recognized my humanity and my community’s freedom to determine its own destiny. For solace I’ve leaned on the stories of earlier freedom fighters in the Civil Rights Movement — including some in my own family — for hope and inspiration.
The Stakes Have Never Been Higher
Shocking similarities between the Jim Crow tactics used to uphold white supremacy from the late 1800s through the mid 1900s and the tactics used now to achieve the same goals are all too easy to spot. In our lifetimes, the stakes have never been higher for those who seek to forge a brighter future and dismantle systemic oppression.
In recent years, protests have erupted against abortion bans, police brutality, racial violence and injustices, anti-trans bigotry, and xenophobia. The common thread with all of these issues is the same desire driving anti-abortion lawmakers: a desire to control our bodies, our lives and our futures. The backlash against these advancements has been immediate — and anti-democracy lawmakers are using anti-voter tactics to roll back gains won by communities of color, women, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ people.
And that’s not all.
Those same forces — fixated on controlling our bodies and our lives, and on suppressing the political will of a diversifying electorate — have also seized control of our judicial system. This year alone, the Supreme Court has:
Overturned the constitutional right to abortion, allowing states to impose sweeping abortion bans;
Limited states’ authority to enforce evidence-based, common-sense gun safety measures to protect lives and reduce gun deaths;
Ruled to allow power plants to continue emitting high levels of pollutants that contribute to climate change;
Blocked “vaccination-or-testing” requirements for large employers, hurting efforts to reduce deaths from COVID-19;
Undermined the separation of church and state, by protecting infringements on the religious or non-religious beliefs of non-Christian people.
How Planned Parenthood Action Fund Is Fighting Back
In addition to endorsing the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights bill, Planned Parenthood Action Fund has partnered with Demos, a leading democracy reform think tank. Together, we’re asking President Biden to integrate voter registration into healthcare.gov, the site used by eight million people in 2021 to enroll in health insurance plans. While this hardly makes up for the erosion of voter protections in recent years, it can help ensure more eligible voters can exercise their fundamental rights in our democracy — by providing voter registration access to millions.
Alongside democracy partners like Demos, the American Civil Liberties Union, and others, Planned Parenthood Action Fund will continue to push the Biden Administration to fight back against voter suppression.
How You Can Help
September 20 is National Voter Registration Day. Confirm you’re eligible to vote — or start the process of registering in your state.
Join us in urging the Biden Administration to integrate voter registration into healthcare.gov in time for open enrollment in autumn 2023.
We Shall Overcome
With my vote this November, I’ll affirm my right to decide if and when I’m ready to parent. I’ll vote for the candidates who will advance abortion access, the rights of my trans siblings to receive gender affirming care, a greener planet, and the ongoing pursuit of racial and gender equity. Like the freedom fighters who came before us, we won’t back down, and we won’t surrender to hopelessness and despair.
When we allow emotions of defeat and cynicism to fester, they win. We didn’t let it happen in 2020, and we won’t let it happen now. So join me this November and rise up and take control at the ballot box.
Pictured at top: Participants in the 1963 March on Washington, photographed on Aug. 28, 1963. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.