Why This Pregnant Woman Opposes Kavanaugh’s Nomination to the Supreme Court
My husband and I are thrilled to be expecting our first child. We’ve decorated her safari-themed nursery, read more pregnancy and parenting books than I can count, and picked out names. We’re so fortunate to have the resources we need to welcome our baby into the world. A dear friend recently hosted a baby shower for us, where we received loads of useful baby items – like diapers, a stroller, and breast pump (and less-than-practical, but fun, baby items, like a five foot giraffe). My mom – who is elated to be awaiting her first grandchild – moved into our mother-in-law suite recently to help with childcare once our daughter arrives. My best friend is also expecting a daughter in the near future, and we already have our “Best Friends” baby gear ready to go and future joint family vacation plans in the works. It’s an exciting time for all of us, and we’re looking forward to meeting our daughter in the fall.
But despite our excitement, I can’t ignore the anxiety I feel when I think about the future for my daughter and me, in a country that often fails its women and girls. Today, rights for pregnant people are already lacking: paid parental leave isn’t guaranteed, pregnant people are often discriminated against at work, and our country has an unacceptably high maternal mortality rate. Our federal and state governments are so quick to regulate what I can’t do with my pregnant body, but are not-so-concerned with how concerned with how I fare during pregnancy or whether my daughter will have everything she needs to thrive after she’s born. And as if that’s not bad enough, my soon-to-arrive daughter will face a number of hurdles in her life, largely because she happens to be a girl: she’s likely to face obstacles that will undermine her success in school, experience sexual harassment (like 81 percent of women), get paid less than her male colleagues when she enters the workforce, and have a higher chance of lacking health insurance and living in poverty than men.
As an attorney with the National Women’s Law Center, I feel well-equipped to educate my daughter about these challenges. In my role, I spend a lot of time thinking about the ways in which our country treats women and girls unfairly, what we can do to stop attacks on our rights, and improve the lives of women and girls. With all of that in mind, you should know that one of the things that scares me the most for the future of women and girls is President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. As a pregnant woman, I’m keenly aware that women – particularly pregnant women – stand to lose a lot, like our reproductive rights, our health care, and our protections from discrimination in employment, should Judge Kavanaugh be confirmed.
My husband and I were fortunate to have been able to plan our pregnancy until we were ready to become parents, which will enable us to give our daughter the best opportunities that we can. We couldn’t have done this without access to birth control. I have also been lucky to have a wanted, relatively uncomplicated, pregnancy – but even at its easiest, pregnancy (and parenting) can be extremely challenging, physically, mentally, and financially. Other people will determine a different decision is right for them; 1 in 4 women will decide not to continue a pregnancy and experience abortion in her lifetime.
It’s critical that people have the freedom and opportunity to control their lives at the most basic level: their bodies, their families, and their future – and for that, access to birth control and abortion is critical. Kavanaugh, on the other hand, has argued for bosses overriding women’s access to birth control. He will turn the balance of the Supreme Court against women’s constitutional rights, including abortion. We know this because President Trump has repeatedly promised to nominate only justices to the Supreme Court who will overturn Roe v. Wade, and Kavanaugh himself has ruled in favor of government overreach to restrict women’s access to safe, legal abortion. With this nomination, women’s ability to make personal decisions about our own bodies and relationships – including the rights to use birth control and have an abortion – are at stake.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation could also be devastating for health insurance coverage, especially for women and pregnant people, with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the line. Trump promised to appoint a nominee who would dismantle the ACA, and Kavanaugh has criticized the ACA and could vote to allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people for pre-existing conditions. As a pregnant person and a woman, this is deeply concerning.
When you’re pregnant, you visit your health care provider a lot; I’ve been to mine 10+ times during my pregnancy, with another 10 weeks in my pregnancy to go. My nurses and doctors have run many tests and done several sonograms to make sure that both the pregnancy and I am healthy. Every time I leave the doctor’s office, I owe nothing because of my excellent health insurance coverage. Without that coverage, I wouldn’t be able to afford the care that ensures that my daughter and I are the strongest we can be during my pregnancy. If I had been pregnant before the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I may not even have had health insurance coverage that included maternity care. Prior to the ACA, insurance plans often denied coverage to women because of conditions unique to them, such as a prior pregnancy or having had a cesarean delivery. Even if a woman was able to get coverage in the individual market pre-ACA, only 12 percent of the most popular plans on the individual health insurance market offered maternity coverage. This left women who did not have insurance at all or that had insurance without coverage for maternity services shouldering the costs of maternity services, which range from an average of $32,093 for vaginal births to $51,125 for caesarian births covered by insurance. With the ACA in place, I don’t have to worry that my pregnancy will increase my future health insurance costs. But without the ACA’s protection for people with pre-existing conditions, we could be dragged back to the days when having a cesarean delivery – or just being a woman – was considered a pre-existing condition that limited access to health insurance.
Kavanaugh also has a troubling record on employment discrimination and education that could impact women and girls. While I’m fortunate to work for an organization that champions pregnant people’s rights, not everyone is so lucky. Even though pregnancy discrimination is illegal, many women delay telling their employers about their pregnancies for fear of discrimination and retaliation. And Kavanaugh, who has repeatedly ruled against workers pursuing claims of employment discrimination, sees anti-discrimination protection for employees as a burden for employers, a troubling assumption and world view. What we need is a justice who would uphold workers’ rights, including protecting workers from sexual harassment. Likewise, as the daughter of a public school teacher, I want my daughter to have access to the best public school education that our country can provide. But Kavanaugh is aligned with the Betsy DeVos’ plot to restrict students’ rights and expand school vouchers, and groups that oppose Title IX. As a judge, Kavanaugh even sought to restrict the rights of students with disabilities.
A Supreme Court Justice who won’t uphold reproductive rights, would vote against health care access, and who has been on the wrong side of workplace discrimination and education is not the future I want for my daughter, or myself. Please join the National Women’s Law Center in our fight to oppose the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh. Everything is on the line for women and girls.