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August 26 is Women’s Equality Day – a date which celebrates and commemorates the day the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920, allowing some women the right to vote in the United States. The passing of this Amendment was a culmination of decades of work by the suffragette movement. While this was a momentous moment for women’s rights, this amendment had limitations, as it only allowed the right to vote to white women, and women of color did not gain access to this right until decades later.

Without acknowledging its limitations, we cannot fully honor Women’s Equality Day as the first rung in the equality ladder that we must continue to climb today. It is because of the 19th Amendment that we have the Equal Rights Amendment that allows for equal legal rights for Americans regardless of sex. These rights our predecessors fought for can never be taken for granted. As we’ve seen this year – a single Supreme Court decision to revoke the constitutional right to abortion can destroy decades of work and progress. Without abortion, we will never be equal.

By banning abortion, the Supreme Court is doing so much more than removing a choice from women, they are setting women back socially and economically. It’s common knowledge that women typically make less than their male counterparts, and while there’s an element of prejudice to explain that dismal fact, there’s another factor at play. In a recent study published in the Harvard Business Review, it was revealed that women are less likely to take opportunities to work overtime, or take last-minute shift opportunities because their responsibilities as a caregiver will take precedent.

For the individuals in the twenty-six states that have already begun to implement severe bans or outright ban abortion access, the ability to achieve aspirational plans will be dashed with an unwanted pregnancy. They will be seen as a caregiver first, and an employee second, regardless of any law that prohibits discrimination by gender, and this will disproportionately harm Black, Latino, Indigenous, and other people of color.

It is for these individuals, and for our collective futures, that we must continue to show up and speak out in droves and let the Supreme Court and anti-choice politicians know that we are not going anywhere, and we will utilize our right to vote in every election at all levels of government. Because of the decision to leave the fate of abortion up to the states, the importance of your vote is even more evident. As we saw with Kansas, the first state to have abortion on the ballot since the ruling, voter turnout matters. The voters Kansas turned out in droves and defended their right to abortion.  

In California, we may be a reproductive freedom state, but the only way to maintain that status is to continue to vote and advocate for pro-choice elected officials. Your voice, and your vote matters. By voting, you can honor the work our predecessors did to obtain this right for us and help expand and protect the rights of future generations.

Here’s what you can do today:

  • Visit march2thepolls.com to check and confirm your voter registration status and encourage others to do the same and show up to the upcoming General Election in November.
  • Visit bansoffabortion.org to learn about other ways you can get involved and how take action.

At Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, we believe that everyone deserves the right to safe, legal abortion and care regardless of zip code, income, or immigration status. We will continue the fight for reproductive freedom today and every day to protect this right for generations to come.