I’ve been putting off my piece for Blog For Choice Day because I’m not entirely sure what to say. I know. Shut up. This year’s question is, “What will you do to help elect pro-choice candidates in 2012?” The problem is that a lot of times, I think I’m doing it just by voting for someone.
We had a bit of an issue here in Shelby County in the fall. I wrote about it here, but the gist of it is that Shelby County has been contracting with Planned Parenthood for many years. Planned Parenthood has used federal Title X money to provide such services as breast cancer screening, family planning information, pelvic exams, and STD screening. Because it is government money, it is not used for abortions. The problem was that back in the fall, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell caved in to pressure from state Republicans such as Hizzoner The Gubner Lite, Ron Ramsey, and decided the Godless Satan that is Planned Parenthood should not get the contract. It was awarded to Christ Community Health Services. Christ Community is staffed with good people doing good things–unless you need an abortion or birth control. Despite Christ Community’s inability to comply with the terms of the Title X grant, the Shelby County Commission sent the money there anyway. A commissioner I supported, Steve Mulroy, made an eleventh hour decision to vote to award the contract to Christ Community because, as he wrote on his Facebook page,
” I KNEW there were almost certainly 7 votes to support CCHS, regardless of what I did. Even after Commissioner Bailey changed back to PPGMR, I KNEW there were 7 votes (or more) for CCHS without me . Since the outcome was a foregone conclusion, I decided to at least get assurances re: compliance monitoring, so that at the end of the contract period, we would have hard data to decide whether opponents’ concerns re: proselytization, abortion counseling, and emergency contraception were warranted. If they are, we can revisit the contract. Some in the audience may have thought I was the crucial 7th vote, because they saw the voting screen light up with 6 names in green, then a pause, and then my name in green. Not so. Newly appointed Commissioner Taylor, too new to be able to vote using the computer system, had already indicated his support. I knew there were already 7 votes, and I knew an 8th was on its way. I was either the 8th or 9th vote for this, depending on how you count it.”
So, what am I going to do? I’m going to pay more attention. It’s more than a question of whether or not a particular candidate is pro-choice. Wearing a pink ribbon on your lapel in October does not make you a champion of women’s health issues. The issue, for me, is what will you do to respect my privacy? What will you do to ensure equal access to health care? What will you do to make abortion safe and rare? If you reduce your campaign to a single issue–even if it is women’s health–you are not my candidate. The problem is that we, as voters, have allowed ourselves to be single-issue voters. And that stops for me this year.
I’m taking the old saying about all politics being local to heart this year. I’m concentrating on local and state issues first, national issues second. I figure if we get the local solved, the national will soon follow. I’m going to support public servants rather than politicians. I’m going to keep pushing the idea that one’s personal religious views do not get to dictate public policy.
I will be a politician’s worst nightmare: An informed voter.