I won’t be docile on the subject of reproductive autonomy – and neither should you.

With every election cycle, we hear about the diminished rights of women, minorities and other disadvantaged people.

Unfortunately, the constant pressure to reduce the way women live has been successful. In this election cycle, the stakes are high. Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the power to regulate abortions was given to state legislatures, made up mostly of men. On November 8, voters will vote to, once again, determine the future of reproductive rights.

Without a united front, control of our bodies and our health is at stake. In no morally just world, does it make sense that our rights are at the mercy of politicians, regardless of gender or political affiliation.

This is why those who identify as women need to unite and support each other. Now is not the time to be divided by political parties or ideologies, often led by certain media outlets and politicians for sensationalism and clicks – it’s time to rally around the humanity of the issue.

Recent polls tell us that access to abortion is a main problem to motivate people to vote. Through our collective power, we can claim a freedom that our predecessors fought for on the streets just decades ago.

Generations of women have fought for every bit of freedom we have today. The indignity and brutality of the past should not go away because we as a culture have become so used to sitting on the sidelines and watching politics unfold like a reality TV show.

As a black and Chinese woman living with a disability, I have struggled all my life to protect my rights and earn what I have. In my current role, I continue this fight for all those who are affected by the inequalities of the system.

Every obstacle I face fuels my determination. After being diagnosed with dystonia, a rare movement disorder, it became difficult to use my dominant right hand. I learned to write with my left. I made my way through business school with that determination. When I realized the lack of accessibility and diversity on Wall Street, I decided to go where I could have a significant and immediate impact on the lives of underprivileged people.

I may be discouraged at times, but my desire for change is not easily swayed. This is the resolution I carry in this fight. I don’t always feel strong, but I choose to stay strong. It can be exhausting, especially when a nine-person office can make a decision that takes away decades of progress in a single day, but I keep fighting. I do not accept that people with ovaries are second class citizens.

I have spoken with many people who feel discouraged, discouraged and overwhelmed to the point of being stuck. So many of the things we struggle with, both personally and collectively, can seem invisible and difficult to measure progress. But abortion access is different: it’s a tangible, public battle that we can change with one vote, and another, and another. This ignite me!

Reproductive rights are a human issue, not a political one

When I see Florida, my home state, push for a 15-week abortion ban, I see politicians skipping lives for votes. When issues become so polarized, we lose the human factor.

It’s time to stop thinking about abortion as a political issue and start talking about it as a human issue. Not only does this mindset bring more clarity to reproductive autonomy, but it centers the issue in a way that more voters, especially younger ones, can relate to.

I learned this from Sophie Berren, CEO of The Conversationalist, a nonpartisan educational platform that “empowers young people to have conversations that matter.”

In a recent ABC News interviewSophie was asked to weigh in on the fact that more than half (52%) of Gen Z voters do not identify with a particular party. She felt it was because they rejected traditional labels and wanted to be seen as holistic human beings. As she put it, “I wouldn’t be shocked if in the next midterm elections young people voted outside party lines.”

This is the very essence of what a human problem is: going beyond party lines to do what is right, ignoring slogans and rallies. Treat people affected by votes as human beings and act accordingly.

Bridging the gap

For reproductive autonomy to once again become a matter of humanity, the situation of people seeking care must be normalized. Difficult conversations need to happen. We do this by telling our stories, as raw and emotionally vulnerable as that makes us.

It worked before. By encouraging women to come forward and speak out, #MeToo validated women’s experiences and, over time, helped raise awareness and understanding. New Data from the Pew Research Center found that most Americans (62%) believe that people who report workplace harassment or sexual assault are more likely to be believed today than before the movement began.

There is already momentum for the abortion discussion. Chrissy Teigen share that she had an abortion in 2020 to save her life “for a baby who had absolutely no chance”. The Palm Beach Post published a story of six women share why they had an abortion. Big names are not necessary. Your mother, sister or friend might have a story. Listen to her and empower her to share it whenever possible. You don’t get comfortable keeping scary things away. Embracing and understanding them is the only way forward.

Some organizations are using their platforms to make this issue heard. Mrs is collect stories of women who have had abortions or do not have access to abortion, with an acknowledgment that “For too long these stories have been glossed over or forgotten…” The “Roe Projectby GQ, brings out the male perspective with the aim of mobilizing more men to fight for access to abortion.

Normalizing the conversation is important. Politicians are not the owners of the narrative. And when someone opens up about their journey, we have an important job: to listen without judging.

We deserve to make our own decisions

I have been judged all my life based on my gender, race and disability. Many have tried to make me feel like I’m just not enough. This is the fire I draw from to ensure that women and people born with ovaries can make decisions about their own bodies. I accept that I cannot control how others view me, but neither will their opinions influence me to think differently about myself.

We must come together as women, as sisters, as mothers and, most importantly, as human beings, to stand up for what is right; to take back the reins and not fall backwards. If we don’t fight for reproductive autonomy now, what will happen next? The mid-term reviews are an opportunity to straighten the course of history.

Let’s show up and go to the polls to make a change. Every vote counts, and as a human collective, we can enable change.

Carrie SiuButt is the CEO of SimpleHealth, a company “dedicated to supporting women and those born with ovaries and providing expert care, regardless of the political atmosphere in the United States.” The company makes access to reproductive wellness safe, convenient and easy for its patients and is committed to securing personal and private data. Carrie also serves on the board of Covenant House South Florida, a nonprofit agency that serves runaway, homeless, and at-risk youth, including teen parents and their babies.

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