This past July, I had the opportunity to attend Planned Parenthood’s Power of Pink Conference. For three days, 1,949 supporters, patients and activists descended upon Detroit for Planned Parenthood Action Fund's largest volunteer conference. I was surrounded by empowered individuals from every corner of the country, for a moment it seemed that this could be the America I dreamed existed.
People from all walks of life, who come from diverse background, but are unified on issues that make sense.
As a woman in 2018, I can't tell you how frustrating it is to still be fighting for simple human rights like education and access to reproductive health care. The conference made clear: now more than ever it is important to have a voice and take action.
As soon as I got home a close friend of mine contacted me in a panic, she was pregnant and felt limited in her options. She couldn’t easily access abortion information because she is employed at the same place that she accesses medical insurance. She was worried about confidentiality and was afraid to ask.
The actuality of the issues from the conference, particularly Trump’s gag rule became real to me. I witnessed firsthand her relief as I discussed with her alternative access outside of her insurance. In that moment, I realized we are fighting not only for women to have access to information and options but for anyone who feels hopeless. Access to information in a time when it is readily available empowers people to choose freedom every time.
This situation made me recall the exercise from the conference, “Your Story. Your Power” when the woman next to me shared why she lobbied for access to information saying, “I want to give everyone the opportunity to live to their full potential.” I thought this to be a more than a worthy cause.
The conference had a clear message to bring hope and change in what is a difficult time in this country. This last election awakened many people to the harsh reality that our country's long history of divide is still as it was. The constant struggle to win the good fight can feel overwhelming, but the conference offered practical strategies on how to organize and affect policy change by storytelling. These simple tactics provided communities and advocates a clear path toward potential victories.
Being from Hawai’i, and at times removed from mainland America, I have not felt the level of the divide in our country until I came to Detroit. At the conference, I realized just how much is currently at risk, but the strong female speakers at the conference who told their story gave me hope. They made it clear that women are being educated, empowered all over the nation. The future trajectory of the U.S. is being determined every time we vote and there are more qualified female candidates rising to the challenge to lead us. They eloquently spoke of the labor of creating a better nation and their confidence left no doubt in my mind that the future of America is female.
It's easy to get caught up with what happens in Washington D.C., but I realized that we can make a real impact every day at home by sharing information, our stories, and reaching out to empower each other. I look forward to the day when we can put these issues to rest and respect individual’s needs, and of course court case precedents so that we can not only stand on the secure foundation of our freedoms but we can evolve into a nation that can accomplish progress in the rights for all of humankind.
- Maisa Thayer, Hawai’i