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Simultaneous attacks on abortion and LGBTQ rights are not coincidental

People participate in a march to mark International Women's Day on March 08, 2022 in New York, New York. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
People participate in a march to mark International Women's Day on March 08, 2022 in New York, New York. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Recent weeks have been scary and regressive in state legislatures across the country. Several states —including Arizona, Oklahoma and Florida — have passed distressing legislation and promoted extremist policies to gut abortion rights and prevent pregnant people from accessing reproductive health care. Kentucky passed legislation that makes it effectively impossible to obtain abortion care (though it was blocked by a federal judge last week). Some states, including Texas, have authorized the public as “bounty hunters” to enforce these dangerous abortion bans.

And it’s not just reproductive rights that are being attacked. From Alabama to Idaho, there is also a clear and undeniable push to strip pregnant people and LGBTQ+ individuals of their rights over their bodies and life choices. A few examples: Florida’s governor signed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, restricting any discussion related to sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom. The governor of Texas issued a directive that requires state agencies to investigate situations in which young people receive gender affirming care, calling such practices “abusive procedures.” In Arizona, the governor signed a series of bills prohibiting gender affirming care for minors and restricting transgender girls from playing sports.

It’s not a coincidence that these anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion laws are being introduced and passed simultaneously. The same people fighting to limit abortion care are also working to deny transgender and LGBTQ+ people of their health care and identity. Far-right conservatives have launched a coordinated effort in state governments to control the most private parts of our lives: who we love and marry, our bodies and reproductive freedoms, and our decisions about when and if to have a family. It’s all a part of a misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic coordinated attack on bodily autonomy; all a part of a cynical campaign of control.

In 1973, the decision in Roe v. Wade cemented the right to privacy, reaffirmed the right to contraception, and underpinned rulings that protect rights related to procreation, marriage and the ability to rear your children as you see fit. In early summer, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide Dobbs v. Jackson, a case that will have far-reaching implications for privacy and potentially dismantle the protections in Roe. As a result, we are poised to see an even greater tidal wave of oppressive laws introduced across the country.

Here’s the good news: we know how to fight back — in Massachusetts and across the nation. These battles are not going to be won in the courts, and unfortunately, a fractured Congress doesn’t have the numbers to guarantee our rights in law. That’s why we need to invest our resources, energy and policy solutions in our state governments.

The same people fighting to limit abortion care are also working to deny transgender and LGBTQ+ people of their health care and identity.

We need to flip anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ+ seats one-by-one and overturn these hate-based laws. We need to dedicate our efforts in local and state elections because, as Texas and Florida prove, they matter when it comes to reproductive freedom and LGBTQ+ rights. We need to ensure that LGBTQ+ folks and people who can become pregnant have voices in our government. Here in Massachusetts, we must serve as a model for the rest of the nation by advancing bold, progressive, forward-looking policy.

Massachusetts can be a haven for reproductive health access. That’s why we are fighting to pass legislation to ensure health insurance covers the full spectrum of pregnancy care — from prenatal care to abortion care — without any kind of cost sharing, give public college and university students access to medication abortion at their campus health centers, and ensure that when people do decide to start a family, they can raise children in a safe and healthy environment without breaking the bank on childcare.

We are also working alongside community partners to advance legislation in Massachusetts that secures LGBTQ+ people’s rights, abilities and resources to build families and establish parentage. Currently, there are two bills in the Legislature that will help support LGBTQ+ families receive the protections and treatment they deserve. These bills would affirm that queer families like ours are entitled to equitable treatment under the law and have access to the necessary resources to build their families.

Far-right conservatives have launched a coordinated effort in state governments to control the most private parts of our lives: who we love and marry, our bodies and reproductive freedoms ...

As children are being forced to hide their true identities in classrooms across the country, Massachusetts must seize this moment and stand up as a beacon of equity and equality by supporting our LGBTQ+ residents’ bodily autonomy and health in a manner that is honest about how people live their lives. That’s why we must pass legislation that reinforces LGBTQ+ health care needs by empowering young people to access lifesaving, preventative HIV medication, PrEP.

The far-right is attacking abortion and LGBTQ+ rights, but they have also unlocked our superpower. By making our movement intersectional and interconnected — understanding that these issues cannot be discussed, fought or won in a vacuum — we unleash organizing power that can’t be defeated. Reproductive justice is about more than just abortion; it’s about eliminating the ways that all people, including LGBTQ+ individuals, are denied access to healthcare, rights, and dignity by these systems of oppression. And we won’t stop fighting in states across the country until we break down these systems and ensure justice for all.

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Related:

Julian Cyr Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Julian Cyr is a state senator in Massachusetts, representing the Cape and Islands District since 2017. He is one of two openly LGBTQ members serving in the Massachusetts Senate.

More…

Rebecca Hart Holder Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Rebecca Hart Holder is the executive director of Reproductive Equity Now, an organization working to make equitable access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care a reality for all people.

More…

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