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What Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh could mean for your health care


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Photo: Stocksy/ Vea Vea

No matter your 9-to-5 status, pretty much every American woman has a part-time job: unpaid Supreme Court analyst. This unceasing side hustle starts about the time that you realize that on any given day, some guy can get you pregnant—some bad guy who roofied you, or dragged you into a car, or overpowered you, or worse.

And that’s where the Supreme Court comes in. Because your decision on what happens next—not to mention the fact that there’s a decision to be made in the first place—has been highly politicized since Sarah Weddington stood before the Court arguing for legalized abortion and Roe v. Wade became the law in 1973.

At 53, he has decades ahead of him on the bench if he is confirmed. The question remains: Who is this guy—and how could he affect women’s health care?

I don’t know about you, but anticipating what the Court might do and what could happen in regards to Roe v. Wade takes up a lot of space in my brain—it’s like a computer program is constantly running in the background, taking in new data and adjusting the predictive models accordingly. And since states began implementing abortion restrictions, the latest of which allows California anti-abortion clinics to present themselves as medical facilities, said analytics software (of sorts) has been working in overdrive.

No matter which side of this policy debate you’re on, I don’t have to tell you that President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill Justice Anthony Kennedy’s vacant seat on the Court yesterday. At 53, he has decades ahead of him on the bench if he’s confirmed—and as the deciding vote in a Court that’s split 4-4 along ideological lines, he could shape policy for generations.

As I have to recalibrate, yet again, the question remains: Who is this guy—and how could he affect women’s health care?

There’s a lot to unpack—and it’s not just about reproductive rights FYI. Here’s what you need to know about Kavanaugh.

Work life balance importance for women's health
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Where he stands on: Roe v. Wade

The short answer: Abortion rights are in serious danger. Kennedy was the Supreme Court’s swing vote, and if confirmed, Kavanaugh will have the same power. Though the AP reports that some conservatives are questioning his commitment to social issues like abortion, Kavanaugh’s status as a conservative establishment favorite (he was nominated to the federal bench by President George W. Bush) has Democrats and activists sounding the alarm. “The right to access abortion safely and legally in this country is clearly on the line,” says Dana Singiser, the vice president for public policy and government relations at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, according to NPR.

Where he stands on: Obamacare

Forget abortion—what if you just need a pap test? A mammogram? Or hey, you know, basic health care? The Trump administration has made it clear that they plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare)—even the parts of it that are really popular (ahem: coverage of pre-existing conditions). So where does Kavanaugh stand? He was the dissenting opinion in a 2011 ruling that upheld the constitutionality of ACA last year. And yet, some conservatives don’t think he went far enough in condemning the law that keeps the gig economy—and anyone not supported by employer-provided insurance—healthy.

If Kavanaugh is confirmed, we’ll find out soon enough. Remember those pre-existing conditions? They’re the subject of a lawsuit by 20 states (which the Trump administration just joined) that would end the requirement that health insurers cover them. And don’t forget: Pregnancy is one of them. As Corey Lewandowski would (cruelly) say: Womp womp.

Where he stands on: Title IX

Okay, this one doesn’t directly affect your health care—but as the law that’s known in the sports world for giving female athletes equal access in public schools and universities, it is one of the biggest forces in encouraging exercise for all kids. (The statute has also been a pre-#MeToo rallying cry for opponents of sexual harassment and assault, since it generally prohibits sex discrimination in education.) And it’s been under attack pretty much since it was enacted in 1972. The Supreme Court has ruled on specific implementations of Title IX several times—so how would Kavanaugh view the landmark gender-parity law? It’s hard to say, but according to Fox News, Kavanaugh coaches his daughters’ basketball teams—so we’ll pencil him in the “pro” column? At least on sweat-related matters, you can say the marathoner (who ran a 4:08:36 race in Boston three years ago) is coming from an informed place.

Speaking of the future of health care, Parsley Health just received $10 million worth of funding and this is what CVS acquisition of Aetna could mean for subscribers.

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