This story is published as part of StudentNations Vision 2020: Next Generation Election Stories, reports by young journalists that focus on the concerns of various young voters. In this project, in collaboration with Dr. Sherri Williams recruited young journalists from diverse backgrounds to come up with story ideas and share their peers’ concerns about the most important choices in our lives.
F.Or two years, Theresa Maher was an intern at the American University’s Health Promotion and Advocacy Center, where the 22-year-old learned firsthand the importance of health care for the future of the country.
Today, Maher is outraged by the lack of awareness of women’s health care in this year’s presidential election. For her, and thousands of women across the country like her, the voting booth is a place to regain power and support a presidential candidate who makes women’s health a priority.
“We are literally ignoring half the country when we ignore women’s access to health care,” said Maher, who lives in Washington, DC. “When women say they are in pain, doctors assume it is normal or that they are complaining.” But women know their body. ”
Ninety percent of women with chronic pain say the health system discriminates against female patients. For example, men typically wait an average of 49 minutes before being treated for abdominal pain. According to a report from the National Women’s Rights Center, women have to wait an average of 65 minutes to receive treatment for the same problem.
Gender health inequalities and a national health industry with systemic inequalities are motivating some young women to use their ballots in these national elections to crack down on bigotry based on gender, race and class that some women in medicine face. Rikki Kyle, a senior who studies public relations and strategic communications at American University, said having a president who focuses on women’s health care is vital because not all women have equal access to health care. “Trump has not made me, my sisters, my distant sisters, people in my community with whom I share arguments and adversities, feel that he wants to help us or make sure we are fine,” said Kyle. Kyle, a 21-year-old black woman, grew up in Cleveland where she saw differences in access to health care among working class women.
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 14 percent of all women did not see a doctor in 2018 for cost reasons. This rate rises to 17 percent for black women. Kyle said she avoided medical facilities as much as possible because she felt that their best interests were not on their hearts. “Healthcare is ultimately a priority and ultimately a business,” said Kyle. “You are for profit.”
Michaila Peters, a senior political scientist and philosophy student at American University, said she was concerned that vital resources like rape kits or gynecological appointments would be limited if the next president doesn’t put women’s health first. Peters, 21, said the upcoming elections have shown the country has reached a crossroads, even a crisis point. For Peters, however, it means focusing on women’s health is more important than ever. “If the next president doesn’t make women’s health a priority, things could get worse than before,” she said.
The Trump administration’s anti-women agenda has made the struggle for women’s health care more critical, Peters said: “It’s very difficult to stand up to those in authority who create a culture of scare-mongering,” she said. “In particular [when] This includes predators against women and just overt sexism and objectification. ”
Women want politicians who push for policies that reform the health industry so women are safe when they seek treatment, Peters said. “I’ve witnessed sexual assault by a doctor, by a pediatrician,” she said. “I never opened myself up to anyone back then because it’s really difficult to talk about women’s health and sexual predators when it’s very taboo.”
Peters said that women, including those she knew grew up in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, often do not have all of the health care options, including abortion, and that women are forced to accept – even if – the health care that is available this is the case is inferior. For two decades, a chain of abortion clinics in multiple states, headed by Steven Brigham, who had been banned from medical practice in Pennsylvania and Maryland, continued to operate despite repeated complaints of inferior care. Even after several clinics have suspended licenses for with cheap and unsafe proceduresthey kept working. Women needed abortions at a reasonable cost; The clinics took advantage of their desperation. “There is no place for women where they have the opportunity to make their own decisions and understand their own bodies,” said Peters.
The historically low turnout of younger voters is a problem for some young women voters. From four different age groups – 18 to 29, according to a report from the Poynter Institute; 30 to 44; 45 to 59; and 60 and above – the youngest participants consistently reported the lowest turnout for the last 17 elections. “White men or older women who have more access to care will not push for it [better access] because it doesn’t concern them, “said Peters. “Women don’t know how many of the things they’ve experienced are shared by all of the women around them.”
However, women’s participation in elections offers hope. Women voted 4 percent more than men in the 2016 presidential election, according to a report from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Without access to medical care, women can no longer take control of their own lives. However, voting for those who create equitable health policies gives them some power, said Celeste Davis, senior lecturer in health studies at American University. “Young people have the opportunity to say,” No, thanks, we want to see something different. “Davis said.” Health care shouldn’t be political … every day women know exactly what they need and should vote for it. ”
Women lose autonomy over their bodies when the nation elects a president to rule based on his or her personal beliefs rather than what is best for women, said Christian F. Nunes, president of the National Organization for Women. Nunes, a mother and a black woman, said she experienced discrimination in healthcare. “If we don’t take care of our women, we will die out,” she said. Nunes, who has advocated women’s issues for 20 years, believes young women voters have health care ideas that need to be heard.
“Younger women know what needs to be changed by the health downside that they need to see and see,” Nunes said. “It is important for the younger women that everyone knows that they have a fundamental influence in making change.”