Every mom wants the best for herself and for her family. How can you help make that goal a reality? Vote.
With this guide, What to Expect aims to inspire and energize every mom to use the power of her voice to make a difference. We’ve broken down issues and policies that impact the health, safety, security and economic wellbeing of you and your kids — now, and in the future.
Our goals: To empower you to speak up on issues and vote for candidates who vote for you and your family. To focus on positive change instead of negative partisanship. To clear up confusion and sort out facts. And finally, to make voting as easy and accessible as possible.
Throughout this election season and beyond, join us in using the hashtag #MomTheVote to spread the word about the importance of voting — because the power of your vote can make your life happier, healthier, less stressful and more secure.
Speak up, be heard and #MomTheVote.
A letter from What to Expect founder Heidi Murkoff
Like I always say, motherhood is the ultimate sisterhood. No matter where you live, no matter what your beliefs, your cultural background or your socioeconomic profile, no matter what the color of your skin — you share a common goal. You, like every mom, just want the best for yourself and the family you love.
How can you, and every mom, help make this goal a reality? By voting.
When is Election Day?
Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
How to register to vote
Head to Vote.org — a non-profit, non-partisan voter registration platform — and enter your name, address and a few other details. From there, you’ll be directed to register online, by mail or in person.
Guidelines and registration deadlines vary from state to state. In some states, you need to be sure to register as much as a month in advance. And while 39 states plus the District of Columbia allow online registration, 11 still require registering by mail or in person.
Not sure if you’re registered to vote? Here’s how to check
Vote.org also has a tool to help you check the status of your voter registration.
How COVID-19 impacts your voting options
As the coronavirus crisis presses on, a growing number of states are looking at mail-in and absentee voting as a safer alternative for voters to cast their ballots in November. The situation is evolving rapidly, and Vote.org is keeping tabs on the near-daily changes state-by-state.
Key issues for moms
Below, we’ve summarized the 2020 presidential candidates’ views and policy proposals on five issues that stand to have the largest impact on families in the years to come: paid parental leave, maternal health, child care, access to contraception and the environment.
Want to know who else will be on your ballot and where they stand on the issues? Check out BallotReady.org, which aggregates information from candidates’ websites, social media, press and other sources.
Paid parental leave
Why this issue matters: The United States is one of just a small handful of countries that don’t provide federally mandated paid time off for new mothers. But there’s strong evidence that paid parental leave boosts positive outcomes for both mom and baby—it facilitates breastfeeding, better enables parents to get their infants vaccinated on schedule, reduces odds of intimate partner violence, reduces likelihood of postpartum depression and more.
Donald Trump: In the 2020 State of the Union, President Trump endorsed a bipartisan Senate bill that would give new parents the option to collect a portion of their future child tax credits early. It would not require raising taxes or create a new mandate for businesses; instead, parents borrow from their own future tax credits, meaning they’ll receive a smaller tax credit for the next 10 to 15 years.
Joe Biden: The Biden campaign supports the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would guarantee all workers up to 12 weeks of partially paid leave when they take time to care for a variety of reasons, including to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. The program would be financed through a new payroll tax that would go toward an insurance fund. (The 0.2 percent tax on wages would cost the average family about $ 120 a year.) The FAMILY Act would provide job protection for 12 weeks.
Why this issue matters: More women die of pregnancy-related complications in the United States than in any other developed country, and more than half of those deaths could be prevented. What, exactly, is going wrong? The answers are complex. Two significant issues are:
- Limited access to health insurance. The Affordable Care Act required that all 50 states make more people eligible for Medicaid. However, a 2012 Supreme Court ruling held that states couldn’t be forced to do this, and to date, 13 states still haven’t expanded the program, many of them in the South. While any woman can enroll in Medicaid when she gets pregnant, being able to afford care before she’s expecting is important to ensuring a safe pregnancy. Plus, Medicaid coverage ends 60 days postpartum, even though pregnancy-related complications can happen up to a year after birth.
- Limited access to quality health care. About 40 percent of U.S. counties had neither an OB/GYN nor a certified nurse midwife, according to a 2018 March of Dimes report. People in rural areas routinely have to drive long distances to reach providers and hospitals and rural hospitals and rural maternity units have been closing for years.
Trump: In December 2018, President Trump signed the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act into law. The legislation set up federal infrastructure and resources to collect and analyze data on maternal deaths. Standardizing the way states collect maternal mortality data is an important first step in developing policy that will curb disparities in maternal care. Additionally, to address a shortage of maternity care providers in rural areas, President Trump also signed into law the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act.
Though the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) has been instrumental in bringing quality maternal health care to millions of American women, Trump is against it, and has been chipping away at it throughout his presidency. Prior to the ACA, most health insurance plans sold on the individual market provided little to no pregnancy coverage, and insurers frequently denied coverage or charged higher premiums for pregnant women (and others with pre-existing conditions). President Trump says he’d like to replace the ACA with a health care system constructed along conservative lines, but he has not released details on what it would entail.
Biden: Biden’s health care plan calls for building on Obamacare by giving all Americans the choice to enroll in a public insurance option like Medicare, and by expanding tax credits to make health coverage more affordable for middle class families.
To address the maternal mortality crisis, Biden’s health care plan would adopt strategies from the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, a public-private partnership between the Stanford University School of Medicine with the State of California in response to rising maternal mortality and morbidity rates. Its initiatives are credited with cutting the state’s maternal death rate in half.
Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, is a longtime champion for Black maternal health. Most recently, she was a cosponsor of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus, comprised of nine individual bills that would fill gaps in existing legislation to address the Black maternal health crisis in the United States.
Why this issue matters: In many parts of the country, a year of child care costs more than a year of in-state college tuition. What’s more, the number of child care providers in the U.S. has dropped 15 percent over the last 30 years, making affordable child care even more difficult to come by.
Trump: President Trump’s proposed 2021 budget includes a one-time, $ 1 billion investment for states to develop more options for child care and increase employer investment in child care. The budget proposal also maintains funding for Head Start and Child Care and Development Block Grant at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Biden: Biden wants the United States to commit $ 775 billion over 10 years to expand access to child care and to support universal pre-kindergarten programs for 3- and 4-year-olds. Biden proposes making child care more affordable for giving low- and middle-income families the option of a tax credit or a subsidy. Families that make up to $ 125,000 per year would receive a tax credit for 50 percent of their child care spending, up to $ 8,000 for one child, and $ 16,000 for two or more children. Families earning up to $ 400,000 would receive a smaller credit.
Access to contraception
Why this issue matters: Even if you’re pregnant or just had a baby, contraception is something you need to consider. Back-to-back pregnancies put both mom and baby at risk for complications, and many experts recommend women wait at least 18 months after birth before conceiving again. (No, breastfeeding is not a foolproof form of birth control.)
About 60 percent of women of reproductive age are currently using some form of contraception, and the ACA requires most private health insurance plans to cover 18 forms of contraception in full, with no copays or deductibles. However, multiple barriers prevent women from accessing contraception or using it effectively or consistently, and there are more unintended pregnancies in the United States than in most other developed countries.
Trump: The Trump administration has made it easier for employers with religious or moral objections to exclude contraceptive coverage from the health plans they offer their employees or dependants. Additionally, the Trump administration implemented a gag rule that dismantles the Title X program, which provides reproductive health care to low-income patients. President Trump is also in favor of dismantling Obamacare.
Biden: Biden has stated that the public option in his health care plan would cover contraception in full.
In 2019, Harris joined Senator Patty Murray in introducing the Affordability is Access Act, legislation that would make oral contraception available over the counter.
Why this issue matters: There’s broad consensus among scientists that rising global temperatures are causing major changes to the planet, including shrinking glaciers, rising oceans, poor air quality and more extreme weather. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that not only are these changes certain to affect our children in the future, they’re already impacting them now. Children are more vulnerable to heat waves, poor air quality can cause breathing problems (especially in kids with asthma) and severe weather (like hurricanes, floods and wildfires) directly threatens lives.
Trump: Due to the burden they put on the fossil fuel industry and other businesses, the Trump administration has rolled back 70 environmental regulations that governed clean air, water and toxic chemicals, and limited greenhouse gas emissions from cars and power plants.
Biden: The Biden campaign’s environmental plan would spend $ 2 trillion over four years to combat climate change and environmental racism (a term that refers to the many ways communities of color are disproportionately harmed by environmental factors). The plan is part of Biden’s “Build Back Better” economic recovery initiative.