This post is part of NARAL’s Blog for Choice Day 2012.
This year’s question is: What will you do to help elect pro-choice candidates in 2012?
My pessimistic answer is “probably not enough.”
I don’t say that because I’m not an active citizen. I vote. I sign petitions to get pro-choice candidates on their respective ballots. I encourage everyone I can to register to vote. (As a teacher, I’m very careful not to encourage students to vote any particular way, but encouraging them to register is a-okay.) I talk about reproductive justice issues with friends, many of whom would vote pro-choice anyway. I support Planned Parenthood financially and follow PPAZ’s blog to find other ways I can help. I further support (financially and with my time) additional causes (largely education related) that, while not explicitly pro-choice, are explicitly about access to accurate information… something that’s been at issue with much of the anti-choice legislation the Arizona government has passed in recent years. I have contacted my state and national representatives numerous times over the years, sometimes (though not always) with respect to reproductive justice.
In short, I am a pro-choice nag.
But I live in the anti-choice desert, a place where there are both legal and geographic barriers to access. We have residents a hundred or more desolate miles from an abortion provider, should they need one — because the state has passed laws targeting abortion and subjecting it to different levels of scrutiny than they do other medical procedures. (To the best of my knowledge, while some of these laws have been temporarily enjoined, the fact that abortion providers have closed in non-metro areas is still reality.) In this “right to work” state, where many employees have limited protections if they need to take off multiple days for undisclosed or unapproved reasons, the state has instituted a mandatory waiting period between an abortion consult and the procedure itself. In places where there may be dozens of miles between pharmacies, we have pharmacists to refuse to provide emergency contraception when needed — and the law supports them on this.
Whatever I do, it never feels like enough.
In some ways, I feel quite insulated from personal fallout now. I’m in an area with good contraceptive access, have a supportive partner and the financial means to deal with emergencies (however unlikely), and — oh, yeah — I’m sterile. But I’m not so far removed from a time, in this same state, where I was in a more rural place (a place that is currently 100 miles from the nearest abortion provider), with an unsupportive partner, without friends or reliable transportation to get me to the next city — and without adequate contraception for my circumstances. It happens. It’s not hard to read about all the reproductive health restrictions and think, “That could have been me.”
I’ll still do all the things, of course, everything that’s within my control: petitioning, voting, promoting, donating, encouraging, and nagging. (You bet your sweet ass I will nag.) But sometimes it feels like one grain of sand in a state full of desert.