8 Ways the Election Will Change Women's Health & Reproductive Rights

Maressa Brown

Now that the dust has settled a bit since Tuesday's midterm election, every talking head on TV and writer in the blogosphere can't help but take a stab at the answer to two big words: "What now?" There's no doubt the election's results will affect the future of our country ... and the future of American women's health. Daunting, I know.

Here, eight major shake-ups, take-downs, and potential changes on the horizon ... 

1. Birth Control & Abortion Ban. Defeated.

In Colorado, the so-called "personhood" amendment was voted down by a large margin—72 to 28. The amendment would have mandated that a fertilized egg have the same rights as a born human from the moment of conception. In other words, if it had passed, it would have outlawed abortion (even in cases of rape or incest), emergency contraception, hormonal contraception (like the NuvaRing, Depo-Provera, Mirena IUD, etc. which alter the lining of the uterine wall to make it inhospitable to fertilized eggs), and even medical care that could potentially harm the fetus.

2. The "Rape Comment" Republican. Defeated.

Colorado also did not elect Ken Buck, the unsuccessful Republican challenger for U.S. Senate. This is the guy who accused a rape victim of "buyer's remorse."  

3. Abortion Tax Proponent. Elected.

House Speaker John Boehner & Co. has promised to push the new "Stupak on Steroids" bill, which would ban coverage of abortion in the new health care system and impose a tax on Americans with private insurance plans that include abortion coverage. (That's 87% of private plans.) Boehner is one of more than 180 current House members who are co-sponsors of this legislation.

4. Healthcare Reform Hating Governors. Elected. 

The recently picked up GOP governorships will likely impede the Affordable Care Act (known to some as "Obamacare") at the state level. The federal statute for healthcare reform leaves a lot up to state government (like setting up a process by which to review "unreasonable" premium hikes and creating state-level insurance exchanges). But the GOP governors, who are now at the helm of more than 30 states, could introduce officials who favor a lax regulatory regime, which would undermine the law early on.  

5. (Several) Pro-Life Candidates. Defeated.

In Washington, Nevada, California, Louisiana, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and Delaware, pro-choice candidates beat out pro-life, not-very-femme-friendly ones—one who even argued that rape victims ought to "turn lemons into lemonade."

6. The Anti-Masturbation Candidate. Defeated.

Speaking of Delaware ... Christine O'Donnell lost her bid for Senator, and therefore will not be able to introduce anti-masturbation legislation.

7. Healthcare Reform Hating Congressmen. Elected.

The new GOP majority in the House of Representatives promised that they will go to great lengths—potentially even shutting down government—to overturn healthcare reform, which currently aims to widen women's access to birth control and prenatal care services. 

8. Abstinence-Only Supporters. Elected.

The newly elected Republican representatives want to revive the failed, Bush-era "abstinence-only" programs that emphasize waiting until marriage while excluding discussion of birth control and safe sex. 

What do you believe were the biggest victories and defeats for women's health in this election?


Image via ProgressOhio/Flickr

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