Ballots over Coathangers: Why America’s Women Will Not Go Back
On June 26, 2018, one man’s retirement put 126 million adult women living in the United States in danger. This is what it means to live as a woman in the United States today. In a country where generations of women have protested, organized, and died for sovereignty over their bodies, we are on the precipice of shaming their sacrifice.
The patriarchal infractions that force women in the United States to live in danger do not solely rely on who sits on a bench on East Capitol St and 1st St NE in Washington DC. No, the real intersection of danger and fear in women’s daily lives is the validated and substantial repression and violence of living in a system that was never made for us and does not want to change for us.
It is every day.
It is the one in four women who will receive abortion services in their lifetime living in shame.
It is the one in two American Indian and Alaska Native women who will be victims of sexual violence, and the 40% of them who will not have access to care.
It is the reprisal and retaliation 58% of women serving in our military will face for reporting sexual assault.
It is the 88% of rural women who will travel more than one hour to find an ob-gyn since only 6% of our nation’s ob-gyn’s work in rural areas.
It is the majority in Congress defunding Planned Parenthood as pregnancy-related deaths for black women continue to rise three to four times higher than those of white women.
Roe v. Wade is not about abortion – it’s about safety. It is about access to care, not a coat hanger. It’s about Gerri Santoro’s inhuman death not being in vain and returning as commonplace. It’s about addressing the inherent inequity that living as a female in the United States presents.
This Wednesday, we celebrate our nation’s Independence Day. How do we celebrate liberty if almost 52% of our country is oppressed? How do we honor the pursuit of happiness if one in six women will face intimate violence? How do we value life if the women of our nation are dying at higher rates while giving it than any other developed country?
One thing is true – America remains the home of the brave. Because if America knows how to do one thing particularly well, it is to rely on its’ women. Our bravery in the face of oppression will continue in the streets, in the churches, in the break rooms, and in the bus stops. It will be the text message from your friend making sure you got home safely. The app that helps you monitor your menstruation because you can’t afford health insurance. Your grandmother’s solidarity when the hours are long and the pay too little.
On Wednesday, don’t tell me about our forefathers. Listen to my present-day mothers. It is America’s sisterhood that we must celebrate this Fourth of July. Because we will be loud for those who cannot speak, present for those who cannot move as they wish, and voting this November for those held in cages on our southern border.
Women are America. And we will not go back.