By Kelley Robinson
I remember exactly where I was three weeks ago when I found out that we had lost Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, yet another one of our heroes. My wife had sent me out to buy bananas.
I was in a deep personal negotiation around which bananas I should get (more yellow, more green) — navigating big existential questions. Then, I got the text and I felt so ridiculous to have been so concerned with something so insignificant.
But really, it wasn’t insignificant at all. In fact, everything about that experience was possible because of Justice Ginsburg. I was buying the bananas with a bank account that I opened without a man co-signing. I could afford the bananas because I have been protected from gender discrimination in the workplace throughout my career. I was going to return to my home that I bought with a mortgage, again without a male co-signer, and to my wife, because of Justice Ginsburg’s vote to protect marriage equality.
We, especially as Black folks, know too well that no right we experience today was ever given to us. Everything that we have is the result of brave people with a vision and purpose fighting for what is right and what is just.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death is a sobering wake up call. Her death came at a time of immense upheaval in our country, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and a national reckoning with systemic racism. Perhaps the one silver lining is that these crises have made crystal clear inequities built into the framework of our country. Inequities that Justice Ginsburg spent her life trying to fix. And that’s the silver lining: Now that we can see them, we have a chance to fix them for real.
This election is a key moment in all of our fights — health care, reproductive rights, racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, civil rights, voting rights, equal pay, and more. Because all of these issues are on the ballot — particularly health care.
The Affordable Care Act was a game-changer for women. It means health care companies can no longer charge you more just because you’re a woman. It means 100 million people with pre-existing conditions can live without fear that they’ll be denied coverage because of conditions like diabetes, asthma — even pregnancy. It means access to no-copay contraception for millions. And health care companies are required to provide essential benefits like maternity care, while offering critical preventive medical services like mammograms, free of charge.
For Black women and Latinas, the ACA was even more transformative. Because of centuries of systemic racism in our health care and economic systems, Black and Latino communities have always been less likely to be insured than white folks. That’s part of the reason these communities have had worse health outcomes, like a breast cancer death rate that’s 40% higher for Black women than white women, or a maternal mortality rate more than three times higher. But under the ACA, more Black and Latino folks were insured than ever before. We still have a long way to go, but we cannot afford to take one step back.
Yet the Trump Administration has spent years trying to roll back the Affordable Care Act, which would leave millions of Americans without health care — in the middle of a global pandemic. Imagine what he’ll do to our health care if he gets another four years in the White House.
Or? We could elect a leader who will protect and build on the Affordable Care Act by adding a new public option, which will ensure every American has access to affordable, quality health care. That’s former Vice President Joe Biden. And we could make history by electing the first Black woman vice president in Kamala Harris.
Biden will fight for our reproductive health care, too. From codying Roe v. Wade to ending the Trump gag rule that forced Planned Parenthood and other providers out of Title X — the national program for family planning — to ensuring access to no-cost contraception, Biden’s plan for sexual and reproductive health care ensures your reproductive rights won’t depend on your ZIP code or your income.
In this moment, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to continue the fight for equality our ancestors began. To fight for the future of our children. That’s what’s on the ticket. That’s why we need to get this done on November 3. Go to iwillvote.com and make a plan to vote. Join our movement and our call for change and vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Kelley Robinson currently serves as the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund and as the Vice President of Advocacy and Organizing at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Robinson enters this role with over 12 years of experience as a leader in the progressive field, with an expertise in sexual and reproductive health, and a deep commitment to leading with equity.