The Daily Northwestern

Soto: The comfort of campus sexual health resources should motivate us to vote

Isabella Soto, Columnist

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It’s no secret that 2015 was a year of countless and constant battles against women’s health. From the publication of doctored footage aimed against Planned Parenthood by the Center for Medical Progress to politicians fabricating descriptions of what occurs in women’s health clinics to the United States government nearly shutting down over Planned Parenthood, there’s plenty of reason to question what 2016 has in store for women’s health.

As a student with health insurance coverage, it can be easy to distance myself from the issues surrounding accessibility to women’s health services and live in a bubble, content with my coverage and not concerned with what lies outside the University. In four years, however, I won’t have the confidence of knowing I can be tested for sexually transmitted diseases at Searle Hall. I won’t be able to fall back on University-subsidized contraception. I won’t be able to rely on the University providing health services that other women’s clinics may not provide, and I won’t be able to rely on the promise of my insurance footing the bill.

With Texas diverting funds from Planned Parenthood and other states beginning to consider similar action, the privilege of being at an institution where access to contraception and sexual health services is widely accepted as an essential resource becomes all the more evident. The growing reality, however, is that affordable and accessible health screenings, abortions, contraceptives and countless other sexual health resources are at risk for vulnerable and marginalized communities. While many barriers that exclude women from accessing health centers like Planned Parenthood continue to exist, no barrier would be as restrictive as the total lack of these centers.

As a student body with a large population of voting-age and voting-eligible Americans, we can’t afford to become complacent.

Although voting to sustain and support women’s health services and Planned Parenthood may not benefit us directly, thanks to our available resources, these services should be valuable and accessible assets to women who may not be able to afford a birth control prescription, a visit to a general hospital, or a consultation with a gynecologist.

A new election cycle not only means a new president, but also new faces and new ideas being introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Given that countless government crises have stemmed from a deadlocked Congress and partisan pettiness, this is a chance for voters to elect representatives and senators who may better voice their interests on Capitol Hill. A fresh Congress is especially essential in issues such as women’s health, where the same tried and tired representatives will continue making decisions that harm women on a national scale and restrict their access to resources that are potentially life-saving. We can’t distance ourselves from the political process because we feel comfortable while on campus.

As trite as it may sound, we have to think about our futures when we vote. This fall I’ll be a first-time voter, and even I still can’t fully grasp the depth and impact my vote may or may not have on nationwide issues.

But it’s simple: We’re at the age where our votes will start to count toward our future as adults. We’ll see immediate changes in our lives when we vote because it won’t only be our parents and elders being affected by new laws and leadership this time around. It’ll be us, too. And, with the future of my reproductive health and the reproductive health of American women in question — especially low-income women, undocumented women, women of color, LGBT women and disabled women — it’s my responsibility as a voter to do what’s right for women in 2016.

Isabella Soto is a Medill freshman. She can be contacted at isabellasoto2019@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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