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Women’s Lives Are Not Wedge Issues

August 28, 2012

My favorite quotation from a public official in the aftermath of Congressmember Todd Akin’s outing of the true Republican agenda is this:

Women’s lives are not wedge issues. Women have the ability to make their own health care decisions and their own moral decisions.

Tim Kaine, former Governor of Virginia and candidate for U.S. Senate

I think it stands out in my mind because about two months ago I heard another member of Congress say that access to contraception is a wedge issue.  I don’t have a link for you on this, I heard it live and in-person.

The problem I struggle with is that even our supportive elected officials – those who really understand that they have no business getting in between a woman and her doctor – still look at the issue of access to contraception as a side issue, somehow less important than talking about creating jobs. 

Contraception allows me to plan my life, achieve my dreams, and become a productive member of society on my own terms.  It allowed me to become a mom when I was ready.  I have friends who have struggled with this because of contraceptive failures.  I don’t know that they ever considered ending their pregnancies, but I know that they would have preferred to put off that pregnancy until a later time, be it after getting a degree or after getting married.  Odds are, they both could have achieved this if they had used a more reliable form of birth control – you know, like an IUD perhaps, the kind that had been cost-prohibitive until that section of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act went into effect this month (no thanks to Congressman Akin, or Paul Ryan, for that matter). 

There is nothing more fundamental to how I plan and live my life than the ability to control whether and when I become pregnant.  It’s far from a wedge issue.  It’s the reason that I am, strangely, excited about the campaign rhetoric this year: for the first time in my memory, the candidates for elected office are actually talking about my issues.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Joann Valentin-Alvarez permalink
    August 28, 2012 10:23 pm

    Well said!! As a woman, and a mother to two daughters and a son, it still astounds me that MY choices and my children’s options are up for political debate. The reality is that at the end of the day it is… My Life, My Choice, My Right. Every one of my pregnancies were unplanned and the last was due to birth control failure and I am grateful to have had options that work for me. After being a teenage Mother, I did not want to parent again at age 32 when my elsest child was already 15. After much thought, weighing my options and the cost of a child, I decided to continue with my pregnancy. However, had I not chosen that, it would still be the right choice for my life and the life of my family. I should have all of the above options in order to make the choice that was right for us. Oh! And may I add, no government or polticians are there to give me any handouts or even provide daycare discount nor are they providing the children I do have with free lunch at school as I pay for all of it without the polticians help! Again, My Life, My Choice, My Right!!

  2. August 29, 2012 3:11 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story, Joann. It’s hard to believe so many people who are leading this country still don’t understand these issues.

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