A Brief History of Womenʼs Rights in America
“I declare to you that a woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself, and there I take my stand.” -Susan B. Anthony
If you are involved in Public Health, Women’s Rights, or Politics in general, then this is not your first time hearing the quote above. But what does it actually mean?
For centuries, women didn’t have a voice. We couldn’t go to the grocery stores or leave our hometowns without permission, let alone vote and have a say in the democracy or our well being. This quote, in particular, is one of my favorites because it demonstrates the strength of the women behind the women’s suffrage movement and shows how important it was to them at the time. It gives women the idea that they can handle themselves, without having to depend on the help of a man to make decisions for them. They fought for our freedom. Whether it was to vote, hold public office, and to live the way we truly wanted to. Because of women like Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, and Angela Davis we are able to now have a voice, choice, and a say in what we want for our lives. We can be unapologetically authentic and have an opinion on the world around us.
If we now have the chance to make a difference, finally, why not use it?
Women’s rights today
It’s no secret that there have been recent changes in public health regarding women and our bodies. Specifically, the 2022 ROE v. WADE overturning by the Supreme Court. This decision made it almost impossible (and in some instances IMPOSSIBLE) to be able to have an abortion in the United States. States such as Wisconsin, Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, and West Virginia have already begun preparations to fully ban the right of women to have an abortion regardless of circumstance. This is saying that regardless of the situation, no women in the states will be allowed an abortion. Oh and yes - we asked - this also includes women who may medically need an abortion in order to survive. This is dangerous not only to the mental health of women all over the world, but our physical and emotional wellbeing as well.
Our Justices chose to overturn one of the most important laws made to protect women. As a woman, this personally gave me the ammunition to look more into not only public health and law, but to get more into my field of study and research the importance of women being able to have access to healthcare without having to worry about the state having a say in what we choose to do with our own bodies.
So, what can we do about this moving forward?
To avoid having such drastic decisions made, we can start by making our voices heard. As we saw from this example, the Supreme Court has power. They are able to uproot and change laws in a way they see fit and, unfortunately, this was one of them. Healthcare in general is a very important topic and no one knows a woman’s body like...a woman. It is important for us as women to come together and start choosing legislation that has our best interest at heart. Voting, although it may not seem like it, is very important and is the ultimate determinate in how a state is able to represent its people accordingly.
Without this leverage of voting for our own rights, we have no say in what happens. It is, literally for women in America, a life or death situation. The difference between having rights that are for us, or rights that work against us in some capacity.
If we all take a stand and vote on what we believe in, we have the best chances of having our voices heard and the rights we so desire.
Remember that health is wealth and that the importance of its ability to protect you in the United States of America lies on the effort we put into public policy.