It’s 2021 in America, but women are still fighting for basic human rights like safety.

Even if you believe in conventional gender roles, that does not mean you believe in the denial of women’s safety and physical integrity. With the fight for universalized healthcare on the line, the Georgia Senate Runoff Elections are more crucial than ever. This time, it’s about more than voting blue or red. It’s about voting for the safety of women.

Let’s talk about mothers. If you have health insurance, prenatal visits and any diagnostic tests (such as ultrasounds) are going to be covered. But for women who don’t have health insurance, it’s not so simple. For women who don’t have health insurance, the average out-of-pocket cost for the barest minimum of prenatal care is about $2,500. To put that in perspective, if you pay $600 per month for rent, you’d have to divert 4 months’ worth of rent to having a potentially healthy pregnancy. A patient with no pre-existing health conditionsshould be seeing her health care provider every 4 weeks until the 28th week of pregnancy, every 2 weeks until 36 weeks, and then once a week until delivery. If you have a preexisting health problem like hypertension, a heart condition, asthma, anemia, or diabetes, your costs will be much higher. Where can mothers turn? Public clinics that offer free prenatal care often don’t have the resources for holistic or specialized prenatal care.

This picture shows a mother tenderly holding her newborn baby to her chest. She nuzzles her baby with her mouth and nose.

Without insurance, thorough obstetric consultations could range from about $90 to more than $500. On top of that, pregnancy ultrasounds and laboratory tests are typically billed separately and usually cost $100 each or more. And special tests like amniocentesis, which test for fetal infections, can cost more than $2,500.

The bodies of pregnant women should not be for profit. Pregnant mothers deserve to be healthy even if they don’t have very much money. Pregnant mothers without health insurance and their babies should not be left to fend for themselves.

A mother looks out of her window with great worry and apprehension as she looks out of window and holds her baby. A greyness surrounds her.

Mothers who go without prenatal care are just simply, on average, not as healthy. According to a 2019 report from Womnen’sHealth. Gov, “The babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care.” Given that, mothers who don’t get prenatal care are far more likely to have problematic pregnancies and health issues down the line.

Now some people may say, “if you can’t afford to have a baby, then don’t have one.” They place full responsibility on the mother for her predicament. However, without health insurance, a 3 months supply of birth control is, at the lowest, $90, and a consultation to get prescribed birth control can be up to $250 or more. Moreover, healthcare does not cover alternative forms of contraceptives such as condoms.

Now, what about abstinence? The Columbia University School of Public Health reports that “abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and policies do not work.” Complete abstinence as the only form of contraception is just not realistic, and it gives people less choice and freedom. People should have the right to be intimate with their loved ones whilst maintaining control over their future. Universal healthcare plays a huge part in helping us enjoy the freedoms of our everyday lives.

A man wraps his arms around his significant other. She laughs gleefully as he buries his face into her hair and neck.

And when it comes to birth control, it’s not just about sex. What about hard-working women with painful periods or even endometriosis (beyond excruciating pain in the uterus) who need birth control in order to reduce their cramps so that they can focus and do their job well? Did you know that vomiting is a common symptom of regular period pain? That’s very inconvenient when you’re trying to get things done. For women who can’t afford birth control, but need it to be out of pain, just imagine their world. Universalized health care can help. So Georgia, for this election, vote for your daughter, vote for your wife, vote for your sister, vote for you, and vote for little girls everywhere who deserve to know that their bodies matter.