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Reproductive justice is economic justice, and reproductive freedom requires full and unlimited access to healthcare. (Photo: Mikasi/cc/flickr)

Reproductive justice is economic justice, and reproductive freedom requires full and unlimited access to healthcare. (Photo: Mikasi/cc/flickr)

Reproductive Justice Is Economic Justice

It is time for America to create a Medicare for All health system. 

Melinda Moulton

The Supreme Court issued its ruling in Trump v. Pennsylvania upholding two Trump Administration rules that allow employers and universities to deny their employees and students coverage for contraceptive care based on a religious or moral obligation.  

Birth control is critical and a time sensitive medication that treats serious conditions and allows people to plan their futures and decide if and when to be a parent.  

This ruling and resulting loss of access to contraception will not hit everyone in the same way. It is inextricably linked to economic stability and advancement, and it is one of society’s most potent tools in the fight to advance race and gender equity.  

In a health care system that ties your job to health insurance access, we are vulnerable and exposed if we lose our jobs. Restrictions like this target Black and Latinx people who are more likely to have low incomes and for whom basic health care has always remained out of reach because of historic and continued underinvestment in access to affordable health care. This decision will only make life harder for the very people who are keeping our economy afloat during this pandemic and fighting in the streets for the right to control their bodies and their lives.   

In a health care system that ties your job to health insurance access, we are vulnerable and exposed if we lose our jobs.  Additionally, employers should not be making decisions about contraception in the same way they do not control men’s access to Viagra or a Vasectomy. In this arena, women are the victims of male power and misogyny.

This year we are seeing how fragile some of our institutions are.  Twice in the same year we are experiencing the failings of the eighty-year health care system of connecting employment to health insurance.  First COVID-19 leaves tens of millions of people unemployed and without insurance. And now, the highest court in the land rubber stamps employer-control over their workers’ access to contraception.  

A relic of the second World War, the employer-based health care system is backward, harmful to businesses of all sizes and types, and completely inappropriate for a modern economy. Legacy businesses like the one that I manage struggles to pay for health insurance for our staff, and small and emerging businesses cannot even come close to affording the ever-increasing premium rates.  

It is time for America to create a Medicare for All health system.  

Not only would our country be better prepared to deal with a deadly global pandemic under a universal health care system, but we would be able to provide health care to everyone regardless of whether or not they were employed and covered under their employer’s policy or not. Millions of Americans lost their jobs in the past four months and many of them lost their health insurance.  What a tragedy in the wealthiest country in the world.  

The Medicare for All bills proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders (S.1129 - Medicare for All Act of 2019) and Representative Pramila Jayapal (H.R.1384 - Medicare for All Act of 2019) include universal and comprehensive coverage for reproductive services. Contraception would be free. No more fighting for coverage with a for-profit insurance company and no more kowtowing to your employer’s religious or moral beliefs.  

As a woman I have spent my entire life fighting for the rights of women to have access to affordable reproductive health care. Reproductive justice is economic justice, and reproductive freedom requires full and unlimited access to healthcare. 

With a Medicare for All system of universal health care for everyone we would finally be provided medical care regardless of our employment, economic situation, health condition, gender, or ability to pay. Everyone gets health care without any restrictions – period!


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Melinda Moulton

Melinda Moulton is the CEO of Main Street Landing in Burlington,Vt. and serves on the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. She is a longtime supporter of single-payer health care and a member of Business Leaders for Health Care Transformation.

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