Thursday, June 16, 2011
The news out of the Capitol just keeps getting grimmer. Today, the Wisconsin State Senate is voting on a bill that would decimate the state's family planning programs and defund Planned Parenthood. It's the culmination of several weeks of anti-choice bills, a constant onslaught against the health and rights of Wisconsin citizens.
And that's just Wisconsin. Every day brings new, awful developments. In South Dakota, a law will go into effect on July 1 that will require women seeking abortion to wait a mandatory 72 hours--the longest wait in the nation--and would also require them to receive counseling at an anti-choice Crisis Pregnancy Center. (As of May 24, no CPCs have registered with the state government to provide this counseling). The US House passed an agriculture bill with an anti-choice amendment that would ban discussion of abortion on the internet or through video conferencing, a blow to rural women who do not have easy access to doctors. In Louisiana, the State House passed a bill that would ban abortion entirely in the state, in a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, but it was sent back to committee under concerns that the bill's passage would cause the state to lose $4.e billion in federal health care funds.
These constant attacks not only threaten our physical well-being, but our morale as well. I have seen more than one pro-choice activist with the thousand-yard stare. They tell me that there are days when they dread checking e-mail or Facebook out of fear of what they will find. They sometimes have to take a break from checking the news for the sake of their own sanity. We are in danger of mass "outrage fatigue," that we are encountering so much bad news, with no escape, that we become numb. It gets to a point where it feels like we can't possibly write to every politician, submit letters to every newspaper, over every anti-choice development. After a while, it becomes extremely difficult to maintain enthusiasm and action for something that yields no positive results.
This is the very time when we need to make an effort to recommit ourselves. Try to do something, whatever is in your capacity. If you have the time and a love for public speaking, sign up to speak at a hearing. If you are more comfortable with writing than with speaking, write a blog entry or send a letter to your local newspaper. If you have little free time, take five seconds to send an e-mail to a politician, or a fraction of a second to share a story on Facebook. We live in a time where communication technology allows a story to travel at light-speed, and it only takes one person. Even if an anti-choice bill passes, you can inspire one more person to take action. With more people acting, our support base grows and the burden isn't left to a small number of people.
On May 25, I went to the capitol and signed up at a hearing to speak out against Senate Bill 92, which would prevent an insurance company from covering abortion if that company participates in the health care exchange. It was a miserably rainy day. The committee had an anti-choice majority. By the time I spoke, half the committee had left and the other half were past the point of caring. The person who called me up mispronounced my name so badly that I wondered if they could read English. I knew that no one was listening, so I just took the time to say my prepared speech, one where I said everything I had ever wanted to say to someone in power.
I was wrong. Some people were listening. People from organizations outside of NARAL came up to me afterwords and shook my hand, saying, "Great job! Thanks for telling it like it is!" We exchanged contact information, and decided to collaborate in the future.
Keep up the fight, even when things look bleak. You never know who might be listening to you.