Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Second Installment of "So, how is the maternal political?"

Last week I posted the first of two installments of Shari MacDonald Strong's post about the issues that mothers will take with them to the poles. As the editor of The Maternal is Political, Shari knows that this election there are a lot of issues of great importance and here, Shari discusses what's on her list. Check out the first installment below, then continue reading here!

...So as we move into the final weeks of the election, I’m listening for details, and watching carefully to see what the candidates have to say about the issues at the top of my list...

• Reproductive Rights: Like Governor Palin, I would “counsel” any woman I know to carry her pregnancy to term, if possible. That said, I don’t for a moment believe that I have a right to tell another woman what she has to do with her body, what she legally can do with her own body, because I realize that I don’t know what it’s like to walk in her shoes, and I’m not the one who will be responsible for the life she might carry to term (and I know that the government won’t necessarily be there to help her feed, clothe, care for, provide health care for, or educate said child). I think about the days of deadly, back alley abortions, and the prospect of seeing Roe v. Wade repealed terrifies me. I want to hear what the candidates have to say about Roe v. Wade (and about the potential appointment of supreme court justices who could repeal it), as well as about reproduction rights – and the moms I know do, too.

• Paid Family Leave, Health Care, and Other Family Services: Not coincidentally, abortion rates could be brought down substantially in the U.S. if the government provided crucial social services and addressed important political issues (e.g., access to health care, subsidized child care, paid family leave, gender pay equity, paid sick days, flexible work hours) that would make it possible for more pregnant women to have their babies, if they want to (and many of them, of course, do). Yes, I’m concerned about these pregnant women, and I’m also concerned about the women who already have children and are stuck between a rock and a hard place because they can’t afford childcare and can’t afford not to work; they can’t afford health insurance and they can’t afford the medical bills they get if they don’t have insurance. It’s one thing for a candidate to say s/he cares about families; what are they going to do to relieve the burden?

• Education: My children’s education is one of my biggest concerns, and if I could sit down and ask questions of the candidates, I’d make sure it’s one of their biggest concerns, too. How will you make sure young children get a good educational start? Will your presidency help support after-school programs? What will you do to make sure my husband and I can send our children – all of them –to college? Anybody?

• Maturity: I’m passionate about a wide range issues, in addition to the five-plus listed above, but I also want to briefly mention maturity (and I’m not talking about age, McCain and Biden). Some pundits call it looking presidential. I call it being a grown-up. Enough with the bickering and sniping and arguing, already. I get enough of that at home. (I have two kindergardeners and a third grader.) I want to see which of the candidates can be diplomatic and generous; who refuses to be mean-spirited and petty. After all, I’m a mother. I tell my children to treat others with respect; I encourage them to talk and not to hit. I tell them to look for friends who treat them, and other people, well. Our country deserves nothing less from its leaders. Some candidates try to get away with bad-mouthing, but moms know a cruddy attitude when they see one. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be watching – I’m already watching. Very closely. And everyone knows: when she’s watching closely, there’s not a whole lot you can get by a mom.

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