Dear SistersDear Sisters,
I like to look at the big picture when it comes to politics. I try not to focus too intently on the obvious things that divide us as Americans, but I try instead to see things from other people’s perspectives. This is useful because if you can understand the way your debate “opponent” thinks you can better understand his line of reasoning and then counter that with your own opinion. In other words trying to understand one another is the key to an effective dialogue, which in turn can create real progress in terms of solving problems, which I feel is the role of government.
The other role of government as far as I am concerned, is to help its people, especially those who are for some reason unable to help themselves.
Now, for the sister part.
Women have unique issues that unfortunately cannot be understood by men. Our anatomy begins creating problem for us at a very young age. Some little baby girls are even born with urinary tract infections, something that plagues many women throughout their lifetime. They can be quite serious actually, painful, and debilitating if left untreated. Many women suffer with menstruation issues—also starting for some at 9 and lasting into their 50’s. We have ovaries and fallopian tubes and cervixes, that must be examined and worried about constantly so that they are healthy and in proper working order for the inevitable pregnancy that most women will experience in their lifetimes.
Then there are the breasts, which also must be secured and x-rayed and examined religiously lest they become lumpy and cancerous. We have to stress about contraception and fertility/infertility and we are always counting weeks and days in an effort to be cycle ready, keeping a supply of unmentionables stockpiled so as never to be caught off guard.
There is an expense to all of this preparedness and it can be stressful because any kind of slip-up in terms of maintenance can result in infection, disease, and gasp! death if we are not vigilant—always.
It is a lot to think about, to obsess over, and I haven’t even gone into detail about pregnancy and birth yet.
So what happens if you are poor? What happens if you do not have health insurance? In many cases, if not for Planned Parenthood you would be out of luck.
It is a frightening prospect. Most people get that, but not all. In New Jersey (and in numerous other states, incidentally) Governor Christie cut funding for women’s services calling the spending “wasteful.” When he was challenged by women in the state legislature he told them, “Women could just go to the emergency room.” When they responded, “Who goes to the ER for birth control?” he did not have an answer for them. It is not his problem, so he doesn’t care, and that is my point. I thought that perhaps it should have been suggested to him that he should go to the ER for his annual prostate examination, but women are more tactful it seems, and they did not challenge him in that way. But in case you somehow missed it this guy is on the very short list for Vice President.
While many have very strong opinions about abortion, the fact remains that men cannot possibly understand this issue from a woman’s perspective. It is impossible. They may have an opinion, but they can never know what a woman might feel if she discovers that she is pregnant and she is frightened and alone. A woman on the other hand, especially one involved in politics, could and should be expected to understand this.
The only reason I bring this up is because abortion has become the reason women’s health programs and services are being de-funded at an alarming rate. Because pregnancy and abortion services and counseling are women’s concerns, they fall under the umbrella of women’s health, so the issues overlap. Pregnancy is a woman’s health issue, and while many consider it a moral issue as well, morality is not something that can or should be governed.
But what is really happening when women (think Planned Parenthood) are short-changed literally in this way is that we are being hurt as a sex. When women are denied services, then as sisters we should unite to fight this inequity.
When you are casting your vote, maybe consider where the candidates stand on gender/health issues because when one of us, one of our sisters is denied health care, we all suffer. It is very easy to say, and frankly it should be on the tip of every woman’s tongue:
“That could be me…” because it could be.
We are all sisters.
“Planned Parenthood is many things to many people.
We are a trusted health care provider, an informed educator, a passionate advocate, and a global partner helping similar organizations around the world. Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men and young people worldwide.” *
*Planned Parenthood Mission Statement