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Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation will not overshadow RBG's legacy. We will keep fighting

File:Amy Coney Barrett.jpg - Wikipedia

While I was at the Women's March two weekends ago, I saw a sign that brought a tear to my eye. The sign read: If we must be Ruth-less, we need to be ruthless.

The sign was a play on words regarding the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who indeed was ruthless when it came to fighting for equality.

On Monday evening, The Senate voted to confirm Trump's third Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Although she will NEVER replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Barrett will take Ginsburg seat on the Supreme Court; only one week before the election.

The Senate voted 52-48, a mere two vote difference.

Barrett's confirmation locks in a 6-3 conservative majority which will dramatically transform U.S. law and dismantle decades of progress within our country. The last time I felt this disheartened was the night Trump won the presidency. I remember my stomach feeling as if it had been twisted into knots, along with the sensation of breaking into tears every five minutes.

I remember never wanting to feel that way again. But 2020 keeps throwing out punches and this was the final blow.

For individuals following U.S. politics - or those simply interested in the wellbeing of our country - the news of Barrett's confirmation doesn't come as a shock. Nor does Republicans choosing to expedite the process of Barrett's confirmation. Trump had been alluding to his pick for Ginsburg's replacement ever since her passing was announced on the evening of September 18h.

Coney Barrett, a religious conservative who was appointed to the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals by Trump in 2017, is the polar opposite to Ginsburg, who tirelessly advocated for women's rights and gender equality. Since being appointed to the appellate bench, Coney Barrett's conservative views have taken a front seat in regards to immigration, gun control and abortion.

A vast contrast to Ginsburg in all forms.

When the full 7th Circuit rejected to reconsider an argument over an Indiana abortion regulation in 2018, which required post-abortion fetal remains be cremated or buried, Coney Barrett voted with fellow conservatives. She and her conservative counterparts turned their attention to making it unlawful for physicians to perform an abortion due to race, sex or disability of a fetus. This was later referred to as the "eugenics statute," by conservatives.

Coney Barrett has already considered two laws restricting abortions in her home state of Indiana, including one which would block minors from seeking abortions. Now that Barrett is officially confirmed to The Supreme Court, Americans can bet on similar cases making their way to the Supreme Court inevitably resulting in detrimental consequences regarding abortion access. Considering Roe v. Wade is already in jeopardy, confirming Barrett could potentially result in its reversal.

In addition, birth control could also face legal challenges. With Barrett's confirmation, The Supreme Court could potentially side with companies choosing not to cover birth control - including IUDs and the pill - in their insurance plans. This would make it more difficult for women to afford contraception. According to Planned Parenthood, more than a third of women in America already struggle to afford birth control. This often results in women using contraception inconsistently and can lead to an unplanned pregnancy.

Co-pays for birth control pills can cost between $15 and $50 per month. That can quickly add up to $600 per year, and that's with insurance. As for IUDs, those can easily cost several hundred dollars without insurance. With the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, individuals can still seek contraception at little to no cost. However, with Barrett on the bench, the future for the ACA remains uncertain.

The Trump administration has already introduced a case arguing the act's individual mandate is "unconstitutional." With The Supreme Court scheduled to hear oral arguments on November 10th, they could very well declare the ACA unconstitutional. If that happens, 20 million Americans will ultimately lose their health care, including 12 million Americans currently on Medicaid. In the midst of a global pandemic, having reliable and efficient healthcare is crucial... something the Trump administration appears to overlook.

What's more, Barrett's presence on the Supreme Court could ultimately affect the livelihood of LGBTQ Americans. Following news of her nomination, The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released a statement by Alphonso David, the organization's president stating:

"Coney Barrett has demonstrated hostility toward LGBTQ+ rights in her words and rulings. She defended the Supreme Court's dissenters on the landmark marriage equality case of Obergefell v. Hodges, questioning the role of the court in deciding the case. She said Title IX protections do not extend to transgender Americans, claiming it's a 'strain on the text' to reach that interpretation. She misgendered transgender people, referring to a transgender women as 'physiological males,' while casting doubt on transgender rights."

The press release continued to oppose Trump's nominee, stating if Coney Barrett is appointed she would "dismantle all that Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought for during her extraordinary career."

The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia on Nov. 4th, which according to the HRC, "considers whether governments must allow taxpayer-funded organizations to discriminate against LGBTQ people when providing critical services,"

As you can imagine, the decision has the ability to gravely impact the LGBTQ+ community. I'm not saying Barrett isn't qualified to be appointed to the Supreme Court. With eminent intellect and extensive experience, Barrett is more than qualified to have a seat on The Supreme Court. But if intellect and experience were all it took to be appointed to The Supreme Court, the majority of U.S. citizens would be qualified.

In my opinion, being a great Supreme Court Justice requires more than a credible background and skill set. It requires a strong character that doesn't allow hers/his personal or religious views to interfere with their decision making. They should be concerned for the country as a whole and create laws that reflect all its citizens, instead of creating laws serving their own personal agenda. After all, The Supreme Court is responsible for protecting civil rights and liberties by blocking laws violating the Constitution.

When you have individuals defying that right for their own, personal gain, how does that constitute as justice? Perhaps if we were residing in the early 1960s, Barrett's conservative views would be universally celebrated. Then again, she probably wouldn't have the opportunity considering women weren't appointed to The Supreme Court until 1981, with Sandra Day O'Connor being the first.

Till this day, only four women have served on The Supreme Court, making up only 3.5% of the total.

Regardless, it's safe to say our country has come a long way. Thankfully, we're no longer residing within the archaic, patriarchal reality America once was. And we can thank individuals such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg for that, who notoriously fought for equality and inclusion, continuously persisting in the face of discrimination. But our country faces the risk of resorting back to its traditional origins if the Trump administration is granted another four years in office.

Make no mistake, the trajectory of Barrett's confirmation to The Supreme Court will result in disastrous consequences for our judiciary system, as well as our country. But that won't stop me from continuing to fight for justice. Although this is a difficult time for our nation, it's also a hopeful one.

Whenever I think about giving up, I think of that sign I saw at The Women's March. Now is not the time to cower.

I will not allow Barrett's confirmation to overshadow my loyalty to fighting for justice. I will continue showing up and fighting harder for the causes I believe in. Not just to honor RBG's legacy, but because I made a vow to stay committed to the fight. A warrior doesn't give up at the first sign of hardship. And believe me, we've witnessed a lot of it these last four years.

But I'm still here and I'm still fighting. Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation to the Supreme Court doesn't change that.

Young women shouting while protesting for equal rights against sky
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

This post was originally written and published on November 22 by Sima Bahous, the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women.

Thursday (November 25) marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Here at the UN and across the world, we are celebrating those who are working to protect women and girls and defend their human rights.

And we welcome new partners — governments, organizations, institutions, community groups, people everywhere — to join us, raise your voices and work together to transform lives, not only during the 16 Days of Activism, but every day.

Violence against women is a global crisis. In all of our own neighbourhoods, there are women and girls living in danger. Around the world, conflict, climate-related natural disasters, food insecurity and human rights violations are exacerbating violence against women.

More than 70 per cent of women have experienced gender-based violence in some crisis settings. And in countries, both rich and poor, gender prejudice has fuelled acts of violence toward women and girls.

Violence against women often goes unreported, silenced by stigma, shame, fear of the perpetrators and fear of a justice system that does not work for women.

The Covid-19 pandemic, with all its isolation and distancing, has enabled unseen violence: a second, shadow pandemic of violence against women and girls, where they often found themselves in lockdown with their abusers. In all corners of the world, helplines for violence against women saw an increase in reports.

The human rights of women — including the right to security, dignity, equality and justice — are core principles of international law. And we know that the leadership and safety of women, in all their diversity, plays a vital role in economic progress, community welfare, children's health and education, and more.

All human life benefits when women's human rights are upheld, and we all suffer when those rights are abused.

But there is hope. In recent years, much has been much achieved to prevent and reduce violence against women and girls. The challenge now is to expand global efforts and make a difference in more lives.

We must ensure that essential services are available and accessible to women of all ages. We need to support environments, online and off, in which women can participate safely in decision-making.

New opportunities are opening. Last summer, as part of a USD 40 billion commitment to the women and girls of the world, the Generation Equality Forum launched the Action Coalition on Gender-based Violence.

The Coalition brings together a wide array of women's groups and others: youth, civil society, faith-based institutions, philanthropy, private sector, international organizations and UN Member States.

There will be concrete financial and policy commitments, and scaled-up initiatives in critical areas: survivor support services, legal frameworks and more resources for grass-roots organizations.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence also opens some exciting hopes. It begins the annual "16 Days against Gender-Based Violence," a series of events aimed at creating real change.

For 2021, the theme is, "Orange the World: End Violence Against Women Now!". "Orange" symbolizes a brighter future, free of violence. I welcome and urge you to participate.

Women's groups and concerned people everywhere have been vital to the progress that has been made. Going forward, together, we can make life better and brighter for many more girls and women across the world.