Consider this me stepping out of my comfort zone, and speaking out on my local senatorial race for multiple reasons. The most important of which is that I have met both Democratic and Republican candidates, in very different and informal ways. One was briefly my neighbor, and the other was briefly my doctor. I can't imagine a stranger scenario happening, especially to someone as young, politically-avoidant, and insignificant as me.
I'll be perfectly candid again--I've considered myself a Democrat for my entire adult life. The reasons are mostly social, somewhat fiscal, but I am just so radically accepting of so many people's choices that I could never be labeled a Republican. I have friends in all walks of life, from a Microsoft employee making a six figure income to the polyamorous family with four children to the single mom of two who recently became aware of the necessity of programs like TANF and WIC (when she had previously identified as a Republican.) Normally when I vote, I do a little skimming of the main issues, but it's mainly perfunctory, because I vote Democrat probably 80% of the time, unless I really like an Independent candidate.
This year is different. The Democratic candidate in my state is a career politician, who's been involved in multiple scandals, been convicted multiple times for a variety of offenses, and when he was my neighbor? He just gave me a bad feeling in my stomach. It doesn't truly matter to me about his personal life, or his illegitimate children, in view of his political values being consistent with mine. However, knowing that he fathered a child with his young secretary makes me wonder if he shouldn't be more aware of power dynamics, and how that could be easily viewed as a gray area to many. It's futile to elect someone who is at risk of losing their position related to further scandal.
I didn't come here to talk about the Democratic candidate, though. It's the conservative platform of the GOP candidate that made me so very upset today. What first caught my attention was a friend's post on Facebook (of all places!) about a new commercial that my old obstetrician has aired locally. Her website talks about how her mother raised her to be aware of her privilege, and to take care of others subsequently. She uses this to say that she supports veterans, but then turns around and says she is against Obama-care and the expansion of Medicaid. Of course, she is running, touting the misnomer of "Pro-Life" as well.
Since she is an obstetrician, this is where my brain was absolutely boggled. Medicaid provides obstetric and prenatal care to so many under-privileged women, and continues to provide medical care to the children after delivery. If you want to get technical, forty eight percent of all births in 2010 were covered by Medicaid (or CHIP, a related, federally funded program) in 2010 (Markus et al., 2013). In my profession, I see many, many patients who are covered by Medicaid, who would not be able to seek medical care otherwise. The idea of denying the poor women of our state, potentially even half of the women who bear children here, desired abortions because they are not congruent with her personal beliefs, and then deny them subsequent prenatal care for the child that they are being forced to bear?
Forty eight percent of all births in 2010 were covered by Medicaid.
This is unconscionable, unacceptable, and not what the women of my state deserve. It's not what the poor deserve, and it's not aligned with how this woman presents herself. She talks extensively about supporting veterans, but let's be realistic: veterans are a minute group compared to those of lower economic status. I am a veteran, and I appreciate when politicians acknowledge the burden of combat veterans, but it does not mean that other poor or underserved persons do not matter by comparison. The fact that it is an obstetrician running on this platform oozes of greed and judgment: Medicaid patients may pay her less at her practice, if she even takes them as patients. Apparently her idea of 'empowering women' is denying them choices of what to do with their bodies? If they don't have enough money, they don't deserve the care to ensure a healthy pregnancy and infant? It seems like the only women who should be having sex are those with plenty of money, because otherwise you don't deserve to choose not to be a mother. Heaven forbid, you're poor and have a birth control failure--you're just out of luck. This smacks of the sexual policing of women, and is disgusting. It is a fact that the advent of the control of reproductive function, through birth control and abortion, have contributed to the improved state of women in society. They attain higher levels of education, improved economic security, and better control the size of their families (Frost and Lindberg, 2013).
It's beyond ironic that a female doctor who specializes in female health is advertising this rubbish. In fact, it's not ironic, it's depressing. And also a little bit galvanizing, getting me back into politics, even if it's just for the next few months.
Markus A. R., E. Andres, K.D. West, N. Garro, and C. Pellegrini. (2013). Medicaid covered births, 2008 through 2010, in the context of the implementation of health reform. Women’s Health Issues, vol. 23, no. 5, 2013, pp. e273–e280.
Frost, J. J. and Lindberg, L. D. (2013). Reasons for using contraception: Perspectives of US women seeking care at specialized family planning clinics. Contraception, vol. 87, issue 4, 2013, pp 465-472.