I live in Missouri and this past legislative session, the Missouri House of Representatives passed HB126 which is a version of several other "heartbeat bills" that have been passed in Ohio and Louisiana.
These bills have slowly swept across the nation and are just the next segment in the attack on access to safe, legal abortion. Since this particular bill has passed in my state, I have seen an influx in advocates for reproductive autonomy come out of the woodwork.
The extreme nature of these restrictions is finally causing more people to wake up and realize that if we don't act now, it will be too late.
Yes, the nature of this issue is urgent, but this fight doesn't end at calling your senator and slapping an "I Stand With Planned Parenthood" sticker on your bumper. This fight ends one place, and one place only: the polls.
How you personally feel about issues like abortion and comprehensive sexual education does not matter if these values aren't being reflected on the ballots.
So many people that I have met have been personally pro-choice, pro-birth control but vote only for the people who their family or friends tell them to. I am here to say if you are old enough to vote, you are old enough to think for yourself.
If you truly are fearful of the repercussions from supporting issues that for whatever reason remain controversial, remember that your ballot is completely confidential.
And while I 100% believe that voting is one of the most important things that you can do to help women and people experiencing pregnancy, there is also much work to do in voter mobilization.
To be frank, this is where people usually dip out of the discussion. Honestly, the work that gets pro-choice, pro-healthcare legislators into office is not glamorous.
And while it's not glamorous, it is certainly not bad. I can speak from personal experience, doing things like petitioning and phone-banking is not as scary as it seems. Yes, it might not be thrilling and is rather monotonous but this is the work that must be done for the outcome we desire to ever become reality.
And I don't know about you, but I am not about to let "The Handmaid's Tale" become reality without fighting like hell. I would also like to say that these actions aren't always boring and sometimes I have truly impactful and heartwarming conversations with people.
I cannot stress enough that yes, this is hard work, but it is work with a purpose behind it. The purpose behind all of this work is the single mother of three who simply cannot afford another child.
The purpose of this work is the woman with a medical condition that makes pregnancy deadly. The purpose behind this work is a terrified victim who has just had her entire identity ripped away from her and who cannot bear to birth her rapists baby.
And yes, the face behind this work is the person experiencing pregnancy and simply does not want a child for a number of reasons that are none of our business.
The bottom line is that the people who are affected by these restrictions are just people who are exercising their right to access healthcare. That is all. Abortion is healthcare.
And I won't apologize for making that statement. Now tell me, don't you think that the livelihood of Missourians is worth a few hours calling voters or knocking doors a few times every election cycle?
As an incredibly privileged, white, cis-gendered college student, there's a very good chance that these restrictions will never personally affect me. It is my job to use my privilege, that I have been granted by sheer dumb luck, to help out the people who aren't as fortunate as I am.
People who through no fault of their own weren't granted the same privileges as I was. And these people include every person who wishes to access an abortion and every other healthcare service that organizations like Planned Parenthood provide.
So if you're as enraged as I am at the current state of reproductive rights, please join me in petitioning, canvassing, phone banking, and all of the other work that has to be done. If we don't make change happen, the change will never happen.