Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why I need you to think before you vote

So, I want you to do something with me. I'm going to take you back, not too far back, but back into some recent history.

2005 to be exact.

You don't need too many details to picture me, because I'm pretty typical. In fact, I fit nearly every majority in America. I'm white, I'm Christian, and I grew up middle class in a small town in the South. So really, white Christian girl, I'm sure you've got a frame of reference for that. We're everywhere.

When the year 2005 opens, I was a college educated woman living on my own, working full time for just enough money to pay my bills and cover my debts, but not enough to save any money.

I was doing okay, making ends meet somehow and all that. And then I got engaged! Shortly after announcing my engagement, right in the midst of planning the wedding and my move to the other end of the state, I was let go from my job.

Have you ever looked for a job when you know you'll be leaving town in less than six months? Nobody wants to hire you, and they certainly won't pay you enough to pay off student loans, credit card payments, rent, and grocery bills. Forget health care.

So for six months, I had to live off of the kindness of family and friends. My student loans were deferred, racking up interest while I couldn't pay them. My credit card bills were suddenly only getting paid at the bare minimum and their interest rates spiked up to almost 30% APR. My credit rating was taking a slow nose dive, but through the generosity of family and friends, along with my fiance, I survived.

I got married in September, and I moved to where I live now, in Northern Virginia. Because my work history was suddenly quite spotty, and I had no reference from my last job, I ended up taking a retail job with a company I had been working part time with for years.

I don't remember how long it was before my insurance kicked in. I don't even remember if I got insurance through my job or my husband's. I just know that for most of 2005, I was without health insurance because I either had no job, or I was waiting to be added to a new policy.

In the meantime, I was a newlywed. A newlywed with a difficult financial situation, and a job with little to no security and odd hours. This was not a time where we could have properly cared for children, even if we wanted to start a family. In addition to that, I have a very long family history of cancer, and thus I take whatever option I have available for early detection.

This may come as a shock to a lot of Americans today, but there was only one option available to me that would help with this situation: Planned Parenthood.

At the time, it wasn't even a difficult decision. I needed health care and cancer screenings. I needed to take control of my body and my fertility in order to make sure that we could recover from the bad situation I had created that year. There was only one place that offered those services in my area, and that was Planned Parenthood.

So, I'm going to remind you of what I said in the top of this entry: I am a white, Christian, straight, middle-class woman with a Bachelor's degree. At the time, both my husband and I were employed full time. And I needed the services of Planned Parenthood, because there was no other way for me to get what I needed to help make my future a more stable one.

The reason I bring this up to you is because both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have clearly stated that it is their mission to take that away from every American women. They can frame it however they want, you can make whatever excuses you want, but this is the reality: defunding Planned Parenthood, denying access to birth control, and not allowing women the rights to make their own personal choices is going to hurt women like me.

You can talk all you want about abortions (which is not what Planned Parenthood does, I tell you from personal experience and known FACT that this is not their mission) but you're not stopping abortions (which are legal) but hurting women and men who want to make sure that they're ready for children before they have them.

You can say you're limiting birth control from "whores" and "sluts" but you're also denying birth control to married couples who want to plan their children so they can give the next generation the brightest future possible.

You can say that people can pay for their own pills, that there are other options out there, but there aren't. In many places, places I have lived, places I have been, there are not other options.

If you're trying to imagine the type of woman who goes to Planned Parenthood, the type of woman who needs birth control, the type of woman who will be severely hurt by Romney and Ryan's proposals, then here you go, I'll give you that image again:

I am a white, Christian, married woman. I married a man I had been dating for five and a half years. I grew up with small town values and a middle class life. I might just look like you, or your daughter, or your cousin, or friend. Generally every choice I have made with my life is the choice that conservatives are saying I should make.

And I needed Planned Parenthood.

So when you vote for Mitt Romney, or you support those who wish to defund Planned Parenthood or limit access to birth control for ALL women, I want you to know what you are doing.

You are voting against me. You are walking into that booth and you are saying that you are okay with hurting the majority of American women in order to hurt the ones you don't like.

You are vocally stating that all of these other women are acceptable collateral damage to whatever it is you think is worth this. The media, the pundits, the politicians, they're trying to make this about something else. They're pretending that a certain type of woman goes to Planned Parenthood, that a certain type of woman uses birth control. I am standing here right now telling you that they are wrong. Every type of woman goes to Planned Parenthood. Many types of woman use birth control.

And those women are the ones who will suffer if Mitt Romney is elected.

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