160 Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice Champions Speak Out Against Voting Access Attacks
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 5, 2021
State Innovation Exchange (SiX) and URGE: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity released a letter today showcasing 160 reproductive health, rights, and justice champions — including state legislators from 20 states — who refuse to stay silent amid the onslaught of racist, anti-democratic attacks on voting rights and access happening in state legislatures across the country.
The letter and signatories can be found in its entirety here.
“The reproductive health, rights, and justice movement cannot stay silent in this moment,” says Preston Mitchum, URGE’s Policy Director. “It does not escape me that these same voting restrictions target the same Black and Brown communities that turned out in record numbers throughout the United States in 2020. The way to achieve Reproductive Justice is by increasing access to voting. We must continue to fight back to ensure that people have more access to the ballot box, not less.”
In the letter, reproductive health, rights, and justice leaders call out the specific ways in which Black and Brown communities are targeted with these restrictions — like adding new voter ID requirements for absentee ballots, permanently reducing access to ballot drop boxes, and criminalizing the practice of “line warming,” in which volunteers hand out food and water to voters standing in long lines, among others — and how these restrictions impact reproductive freedom.
“Reproductive freedom and voting rights and access are intrinsically linked,” the letter reads. “Equitable access to the vote means better representation for our communities and responsiveness to our basic needs like comprehensive healthcare, including contraception, maternal care, abortion care, and comprehensive sex education.”
In the 2021 state legislative session alone, 253 anti-voter bills have been introduced in 43 states, but this number is expected to grow. The bills institute new barriers to voting and target people of color by reducing polling location hours, cutting back early voting options; requiring new, unnecessary identification requirements, and curtailing or eliminating absentee voting.
“The right to vote is one of the most powerful tools we have to advocate for change. The systematic targeting to add barriers or fully remove voting access for Black and Brown communities is nothing new. As reproductive health, rights, and justice leaders, it’s imperative we call out these racist attacks on our communities,” says Jennifer Driver, SiX’s Senior Director of Reproductive Rights. “But the call out alone is not enough. We must also find ways to fight better — connecting state and national partners and legislators across diverse communities —— as well as fight differently with the full knowledge that reproductive freedom includes equitable access to the vote, racial justice, economic justice, disability justice, and LGBTQ+ liberation.”