As it turns out, I’m not quite ready to put away my soapbox yet; so today’s Weekend World-Changer Homework is just going to be a continuation of the things we talked about yesterday, to wit:
1. Silence is the voice of complicity.
2. “Not voting against” is the moral equivalent of “voting for”.
3. Therefore, please, for the love of all that is reasonable and sane in this world, please please please register to vote. If you are already registered, encourage others to join you, and be prepared to help folks who are confused by the process.
Here’s why this is on my mind: Arizona.
I’m about to be a little controversial here, and as a friendly reminder, this is a Safe Space–so you are welcome to disagree, as long as you keep the discourse civil. Play nicely and don’t make me come down there, ok?
Arizona has expanded its abortion regulations to indicate that the “start date” for counting a fetus’s gestational age is the date of the mother’s last menstrual period. People are throwing challenge flags all over the place, so it’s not entirely certain whether this law will stay on the books; but it’s got a lot of support, so who knows. Some folks have been poking a bit of fun at this by saying that by this definition, nearly all women are already pregnant–because if you count from the LMP instead of the actual conception date, a woman can legally be pregnant before she’s actually pregnant.
This freaks me out for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s bad science; but I’m going to go ahead and offer myself up as the poster child for why this definition is just plain insane. (Warning: these next few sentences are going to be pretty frank about the workings of my girly bits. Feel free to skip ahead. I’ll note when it’s safe to come back.) I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is a big fancy term for “weird bits on my ovaries that make my system go all wonky sometimes”. My personal experience with PCOS has mostly come in the form of exceedingly heavy periods (you do not want to know the details, trust me) and … wait for it … wildly irregular cycles. I have gone as little as three days between periods, and I have gone as long as (and here’s the punchline) eight to nine months. We have attempted to control this with birth control pills, but even the low-dose pills are too much for me–the added hormones do profoundly unsettling things to my brain parts, leaving me frankly crazy to the point of being unable to function. So we don’t do the Pill anymore, ’cause there are only so many days that I’m willing to be incapacitated with weeping and night terrors before I decide I don’t want to play that game anymore. (Here endeth the specifics. Y’all can come back now.)
For those of you who are just rejoining us, the takeaway from the last bit was that I’ve got a condition that sometimes delays my system from doing its thing for up to nine months at a time. Think that all the way through, in the context of the Arizona laws:
1. I have gone as long as 36 weeks between menses.
2. In Arizona, they count gestational age from the date of your LMP.
3. Therefore, in Arizona, I could already be nine months pregnant on the day I conceive.
4. Therefore, in Arizona, by the time I gave birth, I would be 18 months pregnant.
5. Additionally, in Arizona, since the cutoff for an abortion is 20 weeks, and that’s counted from your LMP, it would be illegal for me to have an abortion before I even got pregnant.
Now that right there is some impressive math and science, kids. Just when you thought Mr “Legitimate Rape” was bad. And yes, I get it that this is a gross oversimplification of things…but y’know, really, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that counting gestational age before gestation even starts is kind of a bizarre thing to do.
Look, I get it that abortion is a very hot-button topic for a lot of people. I am really, really, totally, 100% ok with that. And for myself, unless there was some seriously compelling reason to do so, I probably wouldn’t choose to have an abortion in the first place. But I’m really, really not thrilled with the knowledge that there is a state in our nation where I could legally be “too late” to have the abortion on the same day I learned I was pregnant.
So to drag this back around to my main point, I’ll note again that lawmakers are elected officials. Elected. Officials. If you do not like the way you are being represented by your Elected Officials, you can do something about it. There are avenues for calling for the removal of an elected official, if you’re feeling some strong immediacy about the thing; but otherwise, you can get the hell out there and vote, for crying out loud.
Stop making pithy YouTube videos. Stop making entertaining memes. Stop telling people to “like” something on Facebook, for pity’s sake. If you are eligible to vote but are not doing so, you do not get to have an opinion about the way the country and the states that comprise it are being run.
So this weekend’s homework is simple: Get yourself registered to vote. And get everyone you know registered to vote. And then keep your eyes peeled for voting days, and when they roll around, get on it.
Meanwhile, I’ll just be sitting here trying to decide what to put on my baby registry; y’know, since apparently, according to Arizona, I pretty much constantly need one.