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21st Century Women’s Health Initiative
Roe v. Wade was a major turning point in the decades-long fight for reproductive rights but it was hardly the end of the story; in some ways, it was merely the beginning.
NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri has been on the front lines fighting to protect and advance reproductive freedom for more than four decades and has been witness to the increasingly incessant anti-choice attacks at the state level in recent years. We know that for women to be truly equal, NARAL and our overall movement must do more than just be on the defense. We see a clear need for a multi-pronged defense – and offense – to not just protect, but expand these rights.
To realize that true equality, we must organize and mobilize our activists and change the public dialogue in order to build support for proactive reproductive health policies and realize policy gains that improve Missouri women’s health and lives. A crucial part of realizing that equality is ensuring that women have the critical workplace protections they need to support themselves and their families – including family leave and freedom from discrimination for using contraception, having a child or choosing an abortion.
NARAL is currently in a strategic planning phase of our 21st Century Women’s Health Initiative, which aims to support women at all stages of their reproductive lifecycle. This initiative seeks to create safe workplaces for women and their families by organizing and mobilizing broad support around two critical state public policy measures: the Reproductive Non-Discrimination Act and Missouri Family Leave Act. This is a major undertaking in a state like Missouri and will require a multi-pronged and multi-year effort that advances policy change at the municipal level as well as statewide.
We are focused on workplaces protections, as they are a critical part of women’s reproductive rights. Safe workplaces, among other protections, ensure that women don’t face discrimination for their reproductive choices and also provide paid leave (however that may look for a family). Paid leave is even more essential for women, as they access healthcare in different ways than men do.
Women disproportionately experience sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and other trauma, and the rates are even higher for low income women and women of color. We also know that the economic and emotional burden of being the primary caregiver for parents, grandparents and other relatives often falls on women. Paid leave for taking care of a sick family member would relieve the economic stress of this undertaking and empower women and their families to prioritize their health and wellness.
In order to ensure that the women and families of Missouri have access to the services they need, want and deserve, you must stand with women or you stand in the way.