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Commentary: Stop Settling for Less

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I often joke about how I take things for granted. I have been very fortunate to not even think about things that women in some parts of the world still don’t have access to. Being able to make decisions about my own body is one of those rights. “In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade recognized that the decision whether to continue or end a pregnancy belongs to the individual, not the government.”

On June 24, 2022, while I was living and working in Washington D.C., the Supreme Court overruled Roe in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization on the grounds that the substantive right to abortion was not "deeply rooted in this Nation's history or tradition", nor considered a right when the Due Process Clause was ratified in 1868, and was unknown in U.S. law until Roe. How does a country that prides itself on the “land of the free” take away the rights of millions of people? The constitutional rights that I was given, when I was born, in the United States, were simply gone.

The following few days were a blur, I immediately told the kiddos that I nannyed what happened, I had a lot of really meaningful and reality checking talks with them and their parents. All of this felt as if I were watching the world slow down. When major events happen (which is pretty much everyday since I’ve been alive), I tend to notice the small things which eventually lead to the bigger picture.

We have to stop settling.

As an American citizen, I should not have my rights threatened, or taken away from me simply because of my sex. I identify as female, I was born a female, and therfore I am automatically a minority. In fact it wasn’t until 1920 that women earned the right to vote in the US. But that wasn’t true for all women, since it wasn’t until the Voting Act of 1965 that black women were guaranteed the right to vote. I recognize that because I am white it means I have privilege and I acknowledge, and understand what that means. My parents are smart. They raised two nice and accountable humans who have learned how to advocate for themselves and others. They taught me at a young age if I see something wrong, speak up, and if someone doesn’t listen to you, speak louder. I am very lucky to live in a state that has an administration that immediately took action to protect the remainder of rights that I have left. Illinois has long championed the rights of all who live in the state. But what about those who live in states that don’t consider a women’s right to choose to be a fundamental right? Who is going to advocate for them?

At a young age I took this and ran. I don’t know if they knew, but it has saved my life, in education. I have multiple learning disabilities, I know how to stand up for myself, and when I got a good grasp, I started speaking up for those who didn’t have a voice, and then taught them how to get what they need.

Therefore, I shouldn’t have to settle when it comes to my rights, or who I vote for, who I am putting my trust into as a citizen. I shouldn’t have to make sacrifices or limit my scope simply because “they are the best option we have” Really? Are they really? In desperate circumstances maybe, but on any given day? No, no I don’t think so.

This is why being an active member of society and participating in the political process and letting our elected officials know what really matters to us is important. My voice matters and so does yours. 51% of the humans on this planet are women. We are just as important as men are. We should all be treated as such, equally. Maybe this fight will help everyone in the end. Because Roe V Wade isn’t just a “womans” problem. It’s an everybodies problem.

Maren McIlvaine-Newsad is a Macomb resident and a student at Denison University.

The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Western Illinois University or Tri States Public Radio.

Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.