The latest available figures show that only 48 percent of voting-age women with ready access to their U.S. birth certificates have a birth certificate with their current legal name. The same survey showed that only 66 percent of voting-age women with ready access to any proof of citizenship have a document with their current legal name.
Ultimately, these measures make the voting process more confusing and place additional burdens on groups who each had to struggle to obtain the right to vote and the right to access quality & affordable reproductive health care.
What are leaders in the movement saying?
“If you can’t access the ballot box, how do you ensure access to reproductive health care?” — Aimee Thorne-Thompson, Advocates for Youth
For reproductive justice advocates, voter suppression is a reproductive justice issue. Many groups like the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights (RCRC) and NYC Reproductive Justice Coalition (NYC RJC, formerly SisterSong NYC) and Advocates for Youth work year-around to educate communities on the issues and mobilize them to vote for progressive candidates and ballot measures.
Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Justice Director at RCRC, Angela Ferrell-Zabala says voter suppression has the potential to affect down ballot measures and local races in states like Florida.
“Down ballot issues like Amendment 6 will open the state’s constitutional privacy laws and make it very difficult for women to seek abortion care’’ Ferrell-Zabala states.
If Amendment 6 is passed, politicians will be allowed to intrude on personal medical decisions and take away access to healthcare that many women who are Florida public employees currently have.
There is much at stake and “we have to look at the repercussions, it all leads back to reproductive justice. Accessing healthcare and education — making informed decisions about your sexual health and family planning.” Ferrell-Zabala explains.
This is about agency and the power to transform communities.
“To limit the agency of women and youth who are disenfranchised by the social conditions of our race, gender, age and socio-economic status is unacceptable at best, and a direct violation of our human rights at its worst.” says Jasmine Burnett, NYC RJC lead organizer.
Gloria Feldt, author and past president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America argues that “the young, the poor, the women struggling to make ends meet for their families are most vulnerable to disenfranchisement yet have the most to lose if right-wing perpetrators of voter suppression succeed.”
The power of the women’s vote can only be effectively leveraged if every woman who is eligible to vote is able to enter the voting booth and have her vote counted. If they are not counted in 2012 then, “reproductive rights, health, and justice would be among the first freedoms to go, and economic justice not far behind.” said Feldt.