With the election just days away I thought I’d send out a last ditch plea to everyone who hasn’t voted yet. With the absentee ballot process in Washington it couldn’t be easier to fill it out and send it off. We voted weeks ago and it felt good to get it done and check it off the list. If you haven’t voted or didn’t receive a ballot because of a move or other circumstances it doesn’t mean you can’t vote. You can go to MyVote and find information on your local polling place. My guess is that the reason many people don’t vote is not because they didn’t receive a ballot but instead because they are disillusioned by the US political system and actively chose not to participate.
I can understand the election coverage fatigue, the feeling that candidates will vote along party lines and aren’t being truthful or the general feeling that one vote doesn’t count so what’s the point. I am begging those people to reconsider and vote this year. One vote does count and if we all chose to sit back and wait for the results then we will be overruled by the extremes on both sides. This year in particular is too important for women not to take action, and those men who respect women and their rights.
The issue of women having access to abortions or birth control is too often painted as an issue of young promiscuous women acting irresponsibly. Even on another continent the news story of an educated law student being labelled a slut was a big story. To steal a line from President Obama this isn’t a women’s issue it’s a family issue and we shouldn’t forget that. My grandmother-in-law (if that is a real term) raised 6 boys. She happened to be in town when we first found out that I was expecting Kellen and she was spending the weekend at our house. I remember cooking with her one afternoon and asking if she had always wanted such a big family. She laughed and said “I don’t think you plan something like that, it just happens.” Now she is what I would think of as a superwoman grandma and great grandma. The number of great grandchildren she has is in the high teens (and ever growing) and somehow she remembers all of our birthdays. Without fail we each get a card from Grandma Bly and the little kids get one for every holiday, both big and small, in between. Her comment stuck with me though because she didn’t have a choice.
This election we are voting to decide whether or not we are going to go back to the days where even married couples in committed relationships won’t have access to affordable and reliable birth control. There is a reason when I was growing up that the average number of kids is 2.5, families planned for the children they were going to have. Jamie and I decided to have 3 kids; we don’t want to have 3 more. We would not be able to provide 6 kids with the opportunity that we can provide our 3. Could we afford 6 kids on one income? No. Could we afford childcare so that I could work to support 6 kids? No. Would society as a whole be better off or somehow godlier if we had 6 kids? No
Allowing a president into office that would allow insurance companies to deny coverage for birth control, or allowing the personal beliefs of pharmacists to impact women’s access to their doctor prescribed birth control is not acceptable. If family planning becomes something that is not only too expensive but also somehow made to be something shameful by having to seek out a pharmacy that will fill your prescription would be a giant step back for women’s rights. You also set up a system where there are have and have nots in the area of birth control where those who can least afford additional children have reduced access to the tools to be thoughtful around their family planning.
This is to say nothing about politicians making decisions for women who have found themselves in the horrific situation of being victims of rape or incest. Women whose pregnancies may be life threatening or for a number of tragic reasons don’t feel they can have a child. Giving women a choice doesn’t prevent those who chose to have large families from doing so. It doesn’t force women to have an abortion. It doesn’t legislate morality for others. It allows women to make a decision with their family and their doctor about what is the right choice for them personally given their own unique situation.
So my plea is this. This is an issue that impacts not only young single women but it is about those of us who are mothers and want the right to choose how many children we will have. It’s about our mothers who set that national average of 2.5 kids; they need to vote so that we have the same choice. To the men in our lives these are your rights too. We don’t make these decisions alone. So please even if you hate the debates and the Sunday morning news shows, the negative attack ads, etc. Please vote in the national election and your state election too. It takes a minute to fill out a ballot and stick it back in the mailbox. There are bigger issues at stake here than just taxes. I look at Ella and I want to fight for her to have a choice, whether that is no kids, 6 kids or 2.5.