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November 5, 2012

First, the good news: All Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic health centers are open and seeing patients.  If you missed an appointment last week because of Sandy, please call today – PPHP is here for you.

And on to the big news: Election Day is tomorrow.  As someone whose home has no power a full week after Sandy first hit, I keep having to remind myself.  Usually at this time, I’ve got my plan for where I’m volunteering on Election Day – some of us on this team view it as a holiday – but not this year.

To get myself in the right mindset, I’m reflecting on our country, 100 years ago.

100 years ago, women didn’t have the right to vote, and many men who are African American weren’t able to vote, despite having the legal right to do so.

Some of the original suffrage activists died before they were allowed to cast their first vote.

Now, I will not squander the right they fought a lifetime to gain.  And neither should you.

There are all kinds of reasons not to vote.  I have no power.  My daughter, a preschooler now, is so off her regular routine that she had the biggest temper tantrum of her life this morning.  And while I want to take her to vote with me tomorrow, I really don’t want to be that mom whose kid is kicking and screaming in a public place, either.  I have a coworker who lost a loved one in the storm.  I have a friend whose home suffered bad damage.  I have a lot of things on my mind, and I almost wish that voting was not one of them.

Before women gained the right to vote, Margaret Sanger opened a birth control clinic in New York City.  As a public health worker, she had spent years visiting the homes of women who had attempted to self-abort, with often fatal results.  Women who had no idea that it was possible to have sex and prevent pregnancy.  96 years ago, Sanger and two of her staff members were jailed, because the people elected to office at that time felt that birth control was obscene.  No, it’s stronger than that:  they felt that sharing any information about how the human reproductive system worked, for example by U.S. postal mail, was evil – and should be a criminal offense – and they had the power to make it so.

Today, we’re seeing a bizarre, and frightening, return of similar attitudes.  There are people – both men and women – running for office and who hold office currently who have no idea how the human reproductive system works, do not believe that people should have access to affordable birth control, and do not believe that a woman should be able to make informed decisions about her own pregnancy.  (At least we’re smart enough now to understand that just because women have the right to vote does not mean we live in a utopia – gender differences aren’t really that strong.)

So tomorrow morning, after cajoling my daughter out of bed and into clothes and through breakfast, I will take her to the polls with me – crossing my fingers that she isn’t going to drop to the floor, kicking and screaming, because we’re away from home yet again.  I will vote for Barack Obama, Tim Bishop, and Steven Englebright.  Because I know that they will not take us back to the 1900s.

If you live in an area affected by Hurricane Sandy and you don’t know whether you can go to your regular polling place tomorrow, contact your local, county Board of Elections – phone numbers and/or more information can be found here for NYS and here for NJ (call the number for your county); in CT, look at which polling sites have changed at one website.  

To see how the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and local advocacy organizations like the PPHP Action Fund rate candidates, visit

If you want to read more about Margaret Sanger, see here.

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