Jun 24, 2022

Tiffani previously served as Executive Director of CCLP. She previously served as president and CEO of Ray of Hope Cancer Foundation since 2017, and was the chief strategy officer of Ability Connection Colorado. Lennon also held leadership positions at the University of Denver from 2007-2014 including chair and faculty in the Law and Society and Community-Based Research programs.

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Remarks on Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization

by | Jun 24, 2022

The following remarks are provided by CCLP’s executive director Tiffani Lennon.

An attack on access to reproductive health is an attack on access to healthcare. Today’s attack on healthcare affects everyone, but particularly those experiencing poverty, with a disproportionate impact on people of color.

Today’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and the “trigger laws” going into effect as a result, are the culmination of a long campaign to undermine the rights of individuals over their bodies, to overrule the advice of medical professionals acting in the best interest of their patients, and to codify a fringe interpretation of the Constitution as a document frozen in time, against the wishes and forebodings of its very authors. It is also a direct strike against the principle that all possess the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The ability for individuals to make their own choices about the courses of their lives and futures has been significantly reduced.

As the Economic Policy Institute eloquently explained last month (following the leaked draft of the Dobbs opinion), “Reproductive healthcare rights are economic rights.”

“In reality, abortion rights and economic progress are deeply interconnected, and the imminent loss of abortion rights means the loss of economic security, independence, and mobility for millions of women. The fall of Roe will be an additional economic blow, as women in the 26 states likely to ban abortion already face an economic landscape of lower wages, worker power, and access to health care….

Some of the economic consequences of being denied an abortion include a higher chance of being in poverty even four years after; a lower likelihood of being employed full time; and an increase in unpaid debts and financial distress lasting years.”

An amicus brief to the court, representing over 100 economists, likewise made clear what was at stake in this decision:

“Causal-inference research confirms that Roe changed the arc of women’s lives… Abortion legalization impacted birth rates, separate and apart from the impact of contraception and other developments… particularly impacted young women and Black women… (and) has had downstream impacts on women’s social and economic lives.”

Income inadequacy rates by age of children, household type and race/ethnicity of householder

Income inadequacy rates by age of children, household type and race/ethnicity of householder. From Overlooked and Undercounted 2022.

The brief further observed that “Employment policies are woefully inadequate; women continue to face real obstacles to balancing motherhood and careers.”

Indeed, CCLP’s own research points to similar conclusions. Single mothers make up 17.9 percent of those living below the Self Sufficiency Standard despite accounting for 7.1 percent of working-age households. For many, the inequity of our economic system leads to often difficult reproductive choices. The curtailment of those rights is a striking step backward, ensuring the cycle of generational poverty continues for families across the country.

The state in which we find ourselves has been an evolution that has slowly and insidiously eroded access to healthcare. But will this momentum stop with overturning Roe v. Wade? Undoubtedly not.

In the very same week, the same court that overturned Roe and Casey — returning the regulation of reproductive health access to the discretion of the states — rejected the right of states to regulate access to firearms. That the highest court in the land can reach such different interpretations of constitutional rights in the span of a single week argues that these decisions are not built upon jurisprudence, but on ideology.

Justice Thomas expressed as much today in his statement:

“In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.”

His choice of cases here is very telling of the ideological motivation of this court, referencing only those precedents supporting gay rights, gay marriage, and contraception, while notably omitting references to Loving v. Virginia and Brown v. Board of Education, two other cases in which the Court previously established federal rights not explicitly written in the Constitution.

The notion of this court is that rights are finite, that access to economic opportunity should favor some over others, that increasing equality for all will threaten those who have benefited from the status quo.

Despite lip service to the contrary, a fundamental rejection of equality has always underpinned the structural racism and economic inequality that continues to plague our country. Some perceive power sharing as dangerous for their own interests because, for some, equity feels like oppression. Some even believe that overturning Roe is a pinnacle “win,” and that they finally have “arrived” after decades of fighting. We must remind them: this is just the beginning. They have “awakened a sleeping giant” and the fight has just begun.

Together, we will reject misinformation and lies. We will remain steadfast, standing with diverse communities in the fight against poverty. We will continue to advance evidence-based solutions and uphold the principles of equity that make equality possible. We will continue to work tirelessly to increase access to healthcare — along with safe housing, healthy food and adequate income — because we are better than this.

The right of individuals to define their own futures is critical to our vision of a Colorado in which everyone has what they need to succeed. Though Colorado, at this time, affirms the right to an abortion, individual rights and equity across the U.S. have been harmed by today’s decision. To be clear: this will not be the last attack on equity and economic opportunity for those experiencing poverty. We stand determined, however, to ensure that today’s decision is not the final word.

Recent articles

CCLP’s 2024 legislative wrap-up, part 2

CCLP's 2024 legislative wrap-up focused on expanding access to justice, removing administrative burden, supporting progressive tax and wage policies, preserving affordable communities, and reducing health care costs. Part 2/2.

CCLP’s 2024 legislative wrap-up, part 1

CCLP's 2024 legislative wrap-up focused on expanding access to justice, removing administrative burden, supporting progressive tax and wage policies, preserving affordable communities, and reducing health care costs.

CCLP testifies in support of Clean Slate updates

Bethany Pray, CCLP’s Chief Legal and Policy Officer, provided testimony in support of House Bill 24-1133, Criminal Record Sealing & Expungement Changes. CCLP is in support of HB24-1133, as it is one of our priority bills.

HEALTH:
HEALTH FIRST COLORADO (MEDICAID)

To maintain health and well-being, people of all ages need access to quality health care that improves outcomes and reduces costs for the community. Health First Colorado, the state's Medicaid program, is public health insurance for low-income Coloradans who qualify. The program is funded jointly by a federal-state partnership and is administered by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.

Benefits of the program include behavioral health, dental services, emergency care, family planning services, hospitalization, laboratory services, maternity care, newborn care, outpatient care, prescription drugs, preventive and wellness services, primary care and rehabilitative services.

In tandem with the Affordable Care Act, Colorado expanded Medicaid eligibility in 2013 - providing hundreds of thousands of adults with incomes less than 133% FPL with health insurance for the first time increasing the health and economic well-being of these Coloradans. Most of the money for newly eligible Medicaid clients has been covered by the federal government, which will gradually decrease its contribution to 90% by 2020.

Other populations eligible for Medicaid include children, who qualify with income up to 142% FPL, pregnant women with household income under 195% FPL, and adults with dependent children with household income under 68% FPL.

Some analyses indicate that Colorado's investment in Medicaid will pay off in the long run by reducing spending on programs for the uninsured.

FOOD SECURITY:
SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (SNAP)

Hunger, though often invisible, affects everyone. It impacts people's physical, mental and emotional health and can be a culprit of obesity, depression, acute and chronic illnesses and other preventable medical conditions. Hunger also hinders education and productivity, not only stunting a child's overall well-being and academic achievement, but consuming an adult's ability to be a focused, industrious member of society. Even those who have never worried about having enough food experience the ripple effects of hunger, which seeps into our communities and erodes our state's economy.

Community resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, exist to ensure that families and individuals can purchase groceries, with the average benefit being about $1.40 per meal, per person.

Funding for SNAP comes from the USDA, but the administrative costs are split between local, state, and federal governments. Yet, the lack of investment in a strong, effective SNAP program impedes Colorado's progress in becoming the healthiest state in the nation and providing a better, brighter future for all. Indeed, Colorado ranks 44th in the nation for access to SNAP and lost out on more than $261 million in grocery sales due to a large access gap in SNAP enrollment.

See the Food Assistance (SNAP) Benefit Calculator to get an estimate of your eligibility for food benefits.

FOOD SECURITY:
SPECIAL SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION PROGRAM FOR WOMEN, INFANTS AND CHILDREN (WIC)

Every child deserves the nutritional resources needed to get a healthy start on life both inside and outside the mother's womb. In particular, good nutrition and health care is critical for establishing a strong foundation that could affect a child's future physical and mental health, academic achievement and economic productivity. Likewise, the inability to access good nutrition and health care endangers the very integrity of that foundation.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition information for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Research has shown that WIC has played an important role in improving birth outcomes and containing health care costs, resulting in longer pregnancies, fewer infant deaths, a greater likelihood of receiving prenatal care, improved infant-feeding practices, and immunization rates

Financial Security:
Colorado Works

In building a foundation for self-sufficiency, some Colorado families need some extra tools to ensure they can weather challenging financial circumstances and obtain basic resources to help them and their communities reach their potential.

Colorado Works is Colorado's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and provides public assistance to families in need. The Colorado Works program is designed to assist participants in becoming self-sufficient by strengthening the economic and social stability of families. The program provides monthly cash assistance and support services to eligible Colorado families.

The program is primarily funded by a federal block grant to the state. Counties also contribute about 20% of the cost.

EARLY LEARNING:
COLORADO CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (CCCAP)

Child care is a must for working families. Along with ensuring that parents can work or obtain job skills training to improve their families' economic security, studies show that quality child care improves children's academic performance, career development and health outcomes.

Yet despite these proven benefits, low-income families often struggle with the cost of child care. Colorado ranks among the top 10 most expensive states in the country for center-based child care. For families with an infant, full-time enrollment at a child care center cost an average of $15,140 a year-or about three-quarters of the total income of a family of three living at the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) provides child care assistance to parents who are working, searching for employment or participating in training, and parents who are enrolled in the Colorado Works Program and need child care services to support their efforts toward self-sufficiency. Most of the money for CCCAP comes from the federal Child Care and Development Fund. Each county can set their own income eligibility limit as long as it is at or above 165% of the federal poverty level and does not exceed 85% of area median income.

Unfortunately, while the need is growing, only an estimated one-quarter of all eligible children in the state are served by CCCAP. Low reimbursement rates have also resulted in fewer providers willing to accept CCCAP subsidies.