In 2010 over 22 Million women did not vote in the midterm elections… they chose to sit out. – Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health
Tomorrow, November 4th marks the day to cast your votes in the midterm election. This piece will focus on Wisconsin; however, the topics of concern here are issues that are being addressed nationally and ones that you should be aware of no matter where you call home. My hope is that whether or not you agree with this piece, it will encourage you to vote.
SIDENOTE: Some quick notes on voting :
1. You do not need an ID to vote. While you may have heard something about a Voter ID Law requiring an ID to participate in voting, do not let that confuse you or deter you from voting; that law has been blocked by the Supreme Court.
2. In Wisconsin you can register to vote at your polling location ON election day. (if you have changed your address recently you may need to prove your address. This site shows you what you can bring for proof: http://www.cityofmadison.com/election/voter/voterRegister.cfm)
3. If you do not know where your polling place is check out this website: https://2014.votinginfoproject.org/
Now, the people who have only known me for a few years would be surprised to learn that politics was not always a topic that I found even remotely interesting. In fact, throughout my high school years the only time I batted an eyelash at anything political was when every four years two white men began to duke it out on my television screen.
A lot has changed since then. I am older, there are concerns I have about my past, present, and future that I found frustratingly tangled in politics in a way that I had never imagined possible, and… oh yeah the two white men have evolved to include men of more various shades, and *gasp* a woman! Ye,t despite this growing equality in the political playing field, I was ever more beginning to feel like my body was no more then a pawn in a game of chess to which two parties were vying for the crown.
It is quite a thing when you realize that because of the body you have been born into (or chose) you will be treated differently in society, but it is even more of slap in the face when you realize that because you are a woman politicians will be able to decide your access to health, if and how you receive sexual education, your future children’s education, and how much you will be payed compared to your male peers.
Women’s ability to bare children have made their bodies a never ending hot topic of debate, but it may surprise you to see that while abortion is as always a hot topic of debate the effects of politics on women’s health care has a reach that goes well and beyond Roe v. Wade.
While I will not discuss my own views on abortion here, I do think it is important to be aware of what government decisions have been made and how they effect your ability to health care.
It is quite clear that male access to condoms is as simple as walking into must major stores, gas stations, or even grocery stores, but women’s access to female based contraception is not even close to comparable as many women can attest. Still thanks to the Affordable Care Act women have access to birth control and reproductive health care without co-pay or deductible . *There are some exceptions to this act* (Read the full law here.)
If you support the Affordable Health Care Act this could and should be a major voting issue for you, especially as a woman.
2. Closing Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood has gone through a lot of changes this year due to government policy. In 2013 perhaps, the most famous of these changes occurred; a law requiring women seeking abortions to get ultrasounds was passed, but there were other actions taken that ultimately has reduced women’s ability to access any of the services Planned Parenthood offers. Clinics which provide abortions were required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinics location and the budget of Planned Parenthood clinics has been cut by over $1 million dollars in funding . This has lead to 5 clinics in Wisconsin shutting down under the current administrations term.
Some people do not know that Planned Parenthood offers many other benefits to women’s health including, general health care, birth control, relationship support, body image support, gender and sexuality support, and STD testing to name a few. For some women this is their only access to health. For some women this is the only place they feel comfortable turning to when it comes to sexual education.
Once again, I will not weigh in on how I personally feel about the act of abortion; however, I still remember driving a friend to planned parent hood in high school in order to get the birth control pill and condoms. In lieu of sexual education and still at the age where talking to parents about sex was too weird, they were our aid to safe sex and healthy relationships.
For more information about Planned Parenthood click here.
1. Sex Education
Raise your hand if you learned about sex and contraception in high school. I am guessing there are not that many hands. I know I for one would not be raising my hand high.
Yet, for those of you who have been out of the high school scene for a while, you may not be up to speed on current curriculum. In 2012 the Healthy Youth Act was repealed with a bill that promote abstinence only sexual education curriculum. Basically this means that any education about the “health benefits, side effects, and proper use of contraceptives” will no longer be taught in schools.
Now raise your hand if you plan on having sex someday.
It is hard to think about the staggering amount of youth that will be entering this very important stage in their lives where they begin to have serious relationships that will undoubtedly involve sexual acts at some point and realize that they are not knowledgeable about how to keep themselves both safe from STDS and free of unwanted pregnancies.
This is where I will say that I do believe that if we teach people about how to have safe sex, use contraceptives correctly, and have the contraceptives affordable and accessible, we would see a natural reduction in unwanted pregnancies.
Is there anyone who still truly believes that women should be payed less then men doing the same work?
Apparently, even in 2014 there are still a few.
In 2012 the Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act which protected women from salary discrimination in their workplace and gave them strength to bring such cases to court was repealed. In doing this Wisconsin descended the ranks nationally and became one of just five states without an equal pay law.
In Wisconsin, women earn 75 cents to every dollar their male counterpart earns. – Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health.
I don’t think I need to continue to belabor the point that generations of women haven been making. Women are people to and deserve to be treated and paid equally for performing a job to the same level as their male peers.
These are just three main issues that I as a woman, daughter, and future Wisconsin mother will be thinking about as I vote tomorrow. There are countless other issues that do effect you and I encourage you to learn about those. I also hope that you continue to educate yourselves about issues that directly effect women. You can start with the links provided below.
Finally, if you are a man, a son with a mother, a father with a daughter, a husband with a wife, or have a woman in life who you value perhaps you should take a moment and consider how you could use politics to make the world a place that appreciated her, and who she is physically as a woman, as a member of a society trying to grow in equality, and as a true individual as well.
“Be in the kitchen rather than on the menu” – WAWH
– Samantha Hersil
Current Wisconsin State Legislature: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/
Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH): http://wiawh.org/
More Issues and Legislation to be concerning your health care about according to Planned Parenthood: http://www.ppawi.org/issues/current-issues-legislation/current-issues-legislation.cmsx