This Fall, We Will Vote for Women’s Lives
By Christian F. Nunes
Choice is on the ballot.
That’s what the signs read last month for Pat Ryan, the winner of the special election in New York’s bellwether 19th District. His victory was seen as proof that the issue of abortion can make a difference in close elections.
Choice is guaranteed to be on the ballot again this November — but that’s not all.
When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs case last June, it sparked a grassroots uprising that continues to spread, finding roots even in some unexpected places like Kansas. It’s not only about abortion.
The Supreme Court’s decision was seen by many as a roadmap to strike down other rights, from marriage equality to contraceptive care and personal privacy. Everyone knows what’s at stake now.
Abortion rights are on the line in this election, but so is access to health care, child care, equal opportunity and pay equity in the workplace, racial justice, ending violence against women and so much more.
Women are mad as hell at how far and how fast their rights are being taken away — but we’re not surprised. The bans, restrictions, and obstacles we face have nothing to do with women’s health, and everything to do with the power politicians want to retain over women’s lives, their future, and their bodily autonomy.
Add that to the culture of toxic masculinity at the root of violence against women, sexual harassment, and abuse, amplified by a political movement that glorifies aggression and division, and we see this moment for what it is — an existential threat to women’s lives.
Over the years, women have marched for women’s lives, protested, and spoken out for women’s lives, whenever and wherever women’s rights are under attack. Now, we must vote for women’s lives — and make sure that a record number of voters join us.
The landslide defeat of the Kansas ballot initiative against abortion rights showed just how deeply voters reject the politics of control over women’s bodies. Seventy percent of new voter registrations in Kansas were from women following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, and over half of new registrants were under 25. On Election Day, more than 900,000 Kansans came to the polls, far more than anyone had projected.
When women vote, women make the difference. In every election since 1980, women have voted in higher proportions than men, with a “gender gap” ranging in size from four to twelve points. But only about 40% of eligible voters have participated in midterms over the past five decades. 2018 was an exception when more than 118 million Americans voted — fully half the eligible population.
Of course, 2018 was the year that women voters elected the most diverse U.S. Congress in history, including a record number of women. I know we can repeat — or even better — this result in 2022.
According to Gallup, the percentage of voters who say abortion is a major voting issue is higher in 2022 than in any past election year. And in the months after the Dobbs decision, 55 percent of new voter registrations in 10 key states were women, up from under 50 percent before the decision was leaked in May.
A shift of four or five percentage points can mean a feminist majority keeps control of the Congress and grows stronger in the Senate — with the addition of new Senators like Val Demings in Florida and Cheri Beasley in North Carolina.
Then, the clock can start on a new era in politics, where women’s lives, security, and future are no longer put at risk in order to score points or win elections.
That’s what happens when we vote for women’s lives.