As college students, women of color, and Missouri voters, the fate of our bodies, choices, and futures is at the forefront of our minds as the Senate considers the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Crucial protections for our healthcare and our reproductive lives are at risk. Roe v. Wade, the landmark court case that legalized abortion across the country, saved the lives of thousands of people who have sought abortion care in the last 40 years. Roe acknowledged that the decision to have a child is a deeply personal one and that the government should not dictate whether and when a person must carry a pregnancy to term. This right, like so many others, has never been freely accessible to everyone in this country.  But instead of working to ensure that all people can enjoy the full benefits of our Constitution, we see that our freedom of choice, our healthcare, and our bodies are under attack now more than ever.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has made it apparent that he will gut Roe v. Wade the first chance he gets. In 2017, he did everything he could to block an undocumented immigrant minor in Texas from getting an abortion before the state’s legal cut off. He has also sought to undermine access to birth control and is primed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, which could leave over one million Missourians without comprehensive health insurance.

For women, the stakes are high. The government could permit employers to hinder our access to birth control, force us to give birth, and then let insurance companies deny us coverage if we had a pregnancy complication or a Cesarean section. Kavanaugh’s nomination poses real harm, and we cannot allow our Senators to play politics with our health and lives.

That’s why we have come together to raise our voices and ask Senator Blunt, and especially Senator McCaskill, to listen to us – their constituents – and firmly reject Brett Kavanaugh. Senator McCaskill has repeated time and time again that she is here for the women of Missouri. She cares about families, health care, and the safety of our citizens. This is her chance to prove it. We can’t afford for her to ‘wait to make a decision.’ We need her to act now.

So Senator McCaskill, our ask is for you. We urge you to fight for us. Fight for the women of Missouri and the women of our country, both documented and undocumented, in our mission to hold on to our reproductive rights and access to health care. We need you to firmly oppose Brett Kavanaugh, to advocate for the rights that are so fundamental to our very existence.

We call on you to remember that in Missouri, it is already extremely difficult to access abortion. 94% of Missouri women live in counties without abortion services, resulting in costly transport and time obstacles. Additionally there is a required 72 hour waiting period, insulting and manipulative required state-counseling, laws that limit the privacy of minors, and a lack of affordable care  – each restriction coming together to create impossible barriers. These hurdles disproportionately affect low-income, immigrant, and woman of color who already deal with severe health disparities. Senator McCaskill, abortion gives women the freedom to govern their own bodies. We need you to fight for that freedom.​ Fight so we can finally claim our bodies as our own, rather than putting our fates in the hands of others.

In Missouri, the devaluation of women’s lives continues through the abysmal care mothers receive. Remember that our state has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country and inadequate prenatal care facilities for both rural and urban women. This year, the Missouri legislature refused Representative Sarah Unicker’s proposal to invest more resources to understanding the high rates of maternal mortality in the state. Restricting abortion only serves to further propel this problem by forcing pregnant women to undergo serious medical risks. Right now in Missouri mothers are suffering, expecting mothers are dying, and health care is a necessity we cannot afford to lose. Appointing Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Justice further damages the well-being of Missouri families, especially for communities that already face discrimination in their day to day lives.

Senator McCaskill, you have the power and duty to stand up to Kavanaugh and be the force to uphold our right to reproductive freedom. Remember that this nomination is a long-term decision that will dictate our futures and freedom. Young people will feel the repercussions of your decision for decades to come.

Vote no on Kavanaugh. You owe it to your constituents: to the teenager who wants to finish school instead of raising a baby, to the young mother who doesn’t have access to transportation to go to a prenatal clinic for routine care, to college students and women of color like us who want bodily autonomy, to the person who needs medical care and will be denied coverage, to the mother on Medicaid who cannot afford to raise another child, to the wealthy mother of two who does not want another child, and to every girl and woman in between who makes a choice that they should not need to justify to anyone.

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