While you’re taking part in the Halloween festivities this weekend, remember that Tuesday is Election Day, and similar to “sluts” in slasher films, women’s rights are in some serious danger.
Ballot initiatives in several key states are giving citizens the opportunity to vote on issues ranging from abortion access to the minimum wage, and it’s critical that women make informed choices. If you live in one of the affected states, make sure your voice is heard on Nov. 4th and that you know what is required to vote in your state.
Some of the initiatives on the ballot are truly the stuff of horror movies:
Women could lose the right to a safe and legal abortion.
In Tennessee, Amendment 1 would change the state’s constitution to allow politicians to pass laws that ban abortion even in cases of rape, incest or to save the health or life of a woman. It would also allow laws that deny life-saving treatments to pregnant women with critical illnesses such as cancer. The proposed amendment would even give politicians the power to restrict or ban access to common forms of birth control, such as the Pill, IUDs and emergency contraception. In short, it’s all kinds of spooky.
Also in North Dakota, Measure 1 would amend the state constitution to provide an “inalienable right to life” at “any stage of development.” If voters don’t stand against this, the measure would not only ban all abortion in the state without exception for rape or incest, but could make many forms of birth control, fertility treatments and stem-cell research illegal. A similar measure being considered in Colorado, Amendment 67, would change the state constitution to include “unborn human beings” in its definition of a person. If passed, this “personhood” amendment would have the same effects as the North Dakota measure as well as opening the possibility of criminal investigations into miscarriages. If that doesn’t want to make you scream this Halloween, we don’t know what will.
Women could lose the opportunity to earn a livable wage.
With minimum-wage legislation being stonewalled at the federal level, some states and localities have taken it upon themselves to treat low-wage workers with fairness and dignity. Seattle and Hawaii have already increased their minimum wage, and this November Alaska and South Dakota have ballot measures that would increase minimum wages to $9.75 and $8.50 an hour, respectively. Since women make up the majority of low-wage workers, and many are the family breadwinners, a pay increase could provide economic security and mitigate the gender pay gap in one fell swoop. The wages some workers are expected to raise children on are meager enough to send chills down your spine.
Women could lose the right to affordable birth control.
Legislators in Illinois posed this question to voters: “Shall any health insurance plan in Illinois that provides prescription drug coverage be required to include prescription birth control as part of that coverage?” Since this an advisory referendum, the outcome will not be binding, but a resounding “yes” vote would send a strong message to legislators that citizens support the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act. If it doesn’t pass, it would probably be the part of the scary movie where you want to put your hands over your eyes.
Women could lose constitutional equality.
If you’re an Oregonian, vote “yes” on Measure 89 (the Oregon ERA) to codify gender equality into the state’s constitution. If it passes, Oregon will join 20 other states in having their own ERAs. That means the full weight of the state constitution–like a friendly ghost we all know–would stand behind women in Oregon fighting wage, employment, housing or educational discrimination.
Unlike anything you’ll bump into in a haunted mansion this Halloween, these threats are very real. Don’t be the voter equivalent of the person who blithely wanders into the abandoned house with the ominous music playing. Be vigilant about what’s happening in your state, your city and your community by getting yourself to the polls on Tuesday.