State(s) of America

I feel like there is so much going on in the country right now, that I hardly know how to harness my own thoughts and feelings in any sort of order, let alone structure a blog post. But I’m going to try.

Right now it seems like the big things that we’re all witnessing are- the corruption and fall of the supreme court, restrictions on abortion being re-implemented, and mass shootings leaving dozens of children dead, with what looks like zero efforts toward mitigation.

The hypocrisy surrounding all of these issues is absolutely stunning to me.

Not surprising, but stunning. Like…stop me in my tracks with fear and anger sort of stunned. I’ll try to enumerate the worst of it.

  1. Our Supreme Court is supposed to be the most neutral and honorable of any branch of our government and has been sworn to uphold the constitution and preserve the rights of the people. Yet it is currently at least half made up of people with extreme viewpoints, people who lied about their intentions at their confirmation hearings, and ones who have been involved in sexual harassment and/or assault cases. Are you seriously telling me that out of the 330 million people in America, we couldn’t have found anybody more suitable to make or inform decisions on behalf of those millions of people?
  2. ….Speaking of the 330 million people in America…and the deterioration of neutrality and freedom in our government systems– Separation of Church and State has been absolutely critical to maintaining the freedoms we have access to. Only 65% of America is Christian and yet, somehow, we’ve managed to move in a direction of letting that specific belief system- which is neither fact, nor representative of the other 115 million Americans- decide major legislation and restrictions of freedom.
  3. And…speaking of facts….The fact is, is that guns are killing people in America. While the measures that need to be taken to protect people are less clear, the undeniable truth is that people are being gunned down in mass-shootings that could be prevented, if we would do SOMETHING, anything, to prevent them. But because the NRA has an entire party wrapped around their little finger, we aren’t having any sort of meaningful discussion about regulation or gun-related death and mass-shooting mitigation. And instead of being honest about the fact that it’s the lining of their pockets that is motivating their stance, the GOP touts the Second Amendment and concern over having any of their freedoms taken away as the reason they’re cool with letting second and third graders get gunned down in schools.
  4. Meanwhile, and in the same breath, they are taking the freedom and rights to privacy, access to medical care, and bodily autonomy away from the women of our country, using their concern for the rights/freedoms of unborn babies (whoops, sorry, American babies… other babies deserve to live in cages) citizens as their platform.

There’s a lot more that I could say, but those are the biggies for right now. The overturning of Roe vs. Wade comes with a whole host of problems that are so obvious and plain to me that I just can hardly believe the blind eye that the republican party and politicians are turning.

If we are talking about freedoms…

You can’t take away women’s privacy and bodily autonomy. The government can’t make anybody give blood, even though it saves lives. If I tried to pass a law that said every person now has to give blood once a month for at least a year…our country would be livid. LIVID. That is not a reasonable request. Being able to use somebody’s body for somebody else’s benefit is wrong and a huge violation of freedom.

Another example… Nobody is allowed to force me to give a kidney to somebody who needed it- even a relative. But I can be forced to grow one for somebody else now. I could be forced to give up my body and potentially even put my own life at risk in order to grow something that could not exist on its own. To be clear, I have a son….so I feel pretty confident about the toll having even a planned child takes on a person’s body and psyche.

So the fact that anybody can be forced to do anything with their bodies- especially something as invasive as enduring a pregnancy- is an ABSOLUTE violation of bodily autonomy, freedom, and personal rights and if we were actually talking about issues surrounding freedom- we would be protecting the rights of women, not pretending that a cluster of cells that couldn’t yet exist without a host needs those protections instead.

If we are talking about babies…

We would have subsidized childcare, free school-lunch for all children, and quality school programs that offered the same opportunities to each child, regardless of race, orientation, class, or where they are living. If it was about babies, we would make sure they were born into safe, loving, homes that could provide for them. These babies are the ones who will bear the brunt of America’s choice to punish women for having sex- even if it was against their will.

Yes. That is what is happening. This decision doesn’t help or save babies- it punishes women.

If it was about saving and helping babies, then all of the aforementioned would be true AND the foster care system would be fixed, adoption would be free or easy, and children could go to school without the fear of being shot during math class. But that’s not the case. It’s absolutely insane to me that anybody believes that this is about anything less than punishment.

If we are talking about morality…

Instead of RELIGION…then everybody would have better access to sex education and contraceptives so that women could make strong, informed decisions about when the best time (if ever) to have a child is. We would not be discussing whether or not a rape-victim should be forced to carry the product of that rape. Around 35,000 pregnancies per year are the product of rape….and many of those are children who have been raped by family members or other people in their lives who hold positions of power over them.

If this were about morality and NOT religion… we wouldn’t be forcing children to bear children. Period. Whether the sex was their choice or not (although, yes, especially not).

If this were about morality and not religion…we wouldn’t kid ourselves that the people with money and privilege won’t still be getting abortions because of laws in certain states. They will. They will just go somewhere else to get them….while the people who are already disadvantaged, the ones who really need the access to birth control and sometimes abortion just won’t, because it’s even harder now. Which will lead to the exponential growth of a cycle of poverty, lack of education, and lack of opportunity that would be preventable….if only we were discussing morality and not religion.

What’s the bright side?

I just wrote a lot of really disheartening things and I don’t love to do that without offering some sort of silver lining. If only because the only option is to keep going and keep fighting. Honestly though…there’s not really a bright side. This decision is terrible and the threat to the freedom we generally have in America is very real. The Supreme court also wants to relook at other human rights cases under the guise of “giving power to the states”…which really means taking autonomy away from the individual people. This is scary. Very scary. However- even though things are bad and there’s not really a bright side, there is, at least, some hope that I’ve been able to find.

After I was able to get my feelings of anger and helplessness back to a manageable level, I tried to think of some concrete things I could do in order to make a difference. Of course there are some lobbying options and I will vote when I’m able to, like always, but I was looking for more. So I contacted Planned Parenthood to see if there was anything I could do as a volunteer that could make a difference.

To be honest, I went in thinking that there would be only a couple of things that I could help with and that most of them would be things I didn’t really have time for. But there was more than I expected and, furthermore, I was extremely comforted by the optimism and information I was given in regards to the work that’s currently being done to mitigate the fallout of the Supreme Court’s decision. I won’t speak for them in terms of what volunteer opportunities exist, because it will vary at every location, but I will say that if anybody is feeling moved to help or take action- I have a few suggestions based on my experience and the conversations I’ve had.

  1. Reach out to your local Planned Parenthood to see if there’s anything you can do as a volunteer. There are volunteer coordinators who can link you up with options that are local or organizational and you can volunteer the amount of time that you are realistically able to.
  2. Planned Parenthood doesn’t need more money, actually. If you have or are donating to them, it will, of course, go to good use, but because they are a large organization with access to more resources, it’s better to donate to smaller organizations doing more specific and localized work. For example- Here in Virginia, Hampton Roads Reproductive Justice League (HRRJL) is a local abortion fund that will help individuals access and get to the care that they need- whereas PP itself is more on a level of providing services to people once they actually come to their doors. If you aren’t sure how to find some of these local organizations (the ones that are arranging travel or helping women in states who have made abortion illegal)- you can reach out to Planned Parenthood itself, because they will be able to tell you. We are all on the same team here, so it’s not like they will be offended by that inquiry.
  3. Finally- as always- continue to write and call legislatures, attend protests, spread awareness and VOTE. If you’re not registered already- that’s a super easy and concrete step you can take today.

Thanks for reading. Stay safe, healthy, and strong everyone ❤

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