Josie Sustaire, Resident Blogger (’14, University of Oregon School of Law)
Ladies and Gentlemen, we did it. We spoke up and spoke out. We debated, made phone calls, sent emails, posted endlessly on Facebook, tweeted, laughed and cried, then laughed again. We followed our hearts and we stood up for the rights of others. We voted. On behalf of my vagina and the millions of vaginas across these United States, I say thank you.
As I watched the news over the past week, I was overwhelmed with a sense of relief and accomplishment. This is what I saw (thanks to Planned Parenthood for the headlines):
Oregon congressional candidate Art Robinson said the government should force a rape survivor to continue an unwanted pregnancy, by compensating her “very generously…for this burden.” He LOST to women’s health champion Peter DeFazio!
Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh said there should be no abortion exception for the life of the mother, because “with modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance” in which a woman would actually die. He was FIRED!
Florida Congressman Allen West said, “Planned Parenthood women…have been neutering American men.” He just got FIRED in his bid for re-election!
Washington congressional candidate John Koster said “the rape thing” does not excuse abortions, because “crime has consequences.” He just LOST.
Richard Mourdock said pregnancy from rape is “something God intended.” He just LOST his bid for an Indiana Senate seat.
Missouri Congressman Todd Akin said women can’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape.” He just got FIRED in his bid for a Senate seat!
This election became something this year that past elections have never been for me: personal. I cannot recall an election year that meant more to me. Perhaps it was the fact that I am in my second year of law school in an environment conducive towards political awareness and, at least in Oregon, progressive legislation and politicians.
Or perhaps it was the fact that I am now the Co-Director of the University of Oregon’s LSRJ chapter, a title that I feel is a testament to my unwavering support of the pursuit of reproductive justice. It was these reasons that motivated me to share my views with my family, friends, classmates, and even strangers at an airport (true story). But one reason above all these inspired me the most. This year my kids asked me, “Who are you voting for?” I don’t recall ever asking my parents whom they voted for (it usually wasn’t a mystery) and so I was a bit shocked to hear it from my kids’ mouths. I wasn’t sure whether they would understand and I considered changing the subject…and then thought better. “I’m voting for President Obama,” I said assuredly, “and this is why…” I proceeded to tell my ten-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son exactly why I was voting for President Obama. It was an engaging discussion, full of questions and comments. It made me hopeful for the future and to many more meaningful discussions to come.
So, here’s to the voters, to the ladies and gents, and kids too! We can rest easy tonight knowing that our lady parts or the lady parts of ladies we love are much safer.