THE BLOG
10/13/2014 09:13 am ET Updated Dec 13, 2014

What Is at Stake This November ... and Why the Country Needs American Women to Vote

Rachel Kenison via Getty Images

American women, the country needs to hear from you! Do you know how powerful your one voice can be? How powerful your one vote can be?

Remember, it only takes a few votes to make all the difference. In the presidential election of 2000, 104 million people voted and only 537 votes in Florida triggered events that changed the world. Would we have become involved in the unnecessary war in Iraq if Al Gore became President? Would America be falling so far behind on tackling climate change?

According to Edison Research, women specifically have the power to control Congress. In 2012 women made the difference in determining the outcomes in 22 of 23 Senate races. Women will usually vote for the things that make a difference in everyday life. It is women who do most of the shopping and are on the lookout to provide healthier food for their families. They are less interested in the priorities of giant agro-business and factory farms that are promoting unsafe use of antibiotics and the overuse of GMOs and pesticides. Women are trying to make the world a healthier place for generations to come, while Republicans are often on the receiving end of the torrent of campaign contributions from these corporations.

During off-year elections, too many women stay home when their votes are needed. In 2010, the last midterm election, 10 million unmarried women who voted in 2008 did not show up! As a result, conservatives swept to power and eviscerated policies aimed at supporting American women, especially in healthcare. We will face another mid-term election in several weeks. Will your voice be heard?

Republicans in Congress are blocking common sense policies from raising the minimum wage to modest background checks for gun owners. Some conservative state legislatures are passing laws to make it more difficult to vote. This should particularly concern women who spent almost 150 years fighting to "earn" this right. This is why it's important to vote not only for Presidents, but also down the ballot for governors and state legislators who have a great deal of influence over your quality of life.

At a time when domestic violence is on the front pages, it took Congress a full year and a half to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. 160 Republicans voted against it! Women make up 51% of the country, but only 19% of Congress. We need more representation!

I am particularly concerned with women's health. Because research on heart disease focused solely on men for so long, it was understood more as a man's disease. Meanwhile, heart disease is the number one killer of women... killing more women than all cancers combined... killing more women than men. This is just one example of why representing "women's issues" in the governing body that doles out NIH grants is extremely important to our everyday health. It seems like women are still second-class citizens.

But this is far from my only area of concern. By the way, if not for Republicans austere budget cuts, the NIH could have possibly had an Ebola vaccine by now. Unbelievably, I never thought we'd see the day when contraception was once again controversial, but this is what is happening. We are still fighting to have control of our own bodies! The right-wing is pushing these so-called "personhood" initiatives and bills in Congress and the states, which take away rights from women and give full legal rights to a fertilized egg! The GOP Senate candidates in Iowa and Colorado sponsored legislation to that end. Furthermore, repressive state laws are shutting down Planned Parenthood clinics that provide a wide range of health screenings for low-income women and men. In Texas just this month, the court upheld the restrictive state law that drastically reduced the reproductive health care clinics from 40 to 8, leaving some women to now drive 150 miles to access health services.

It is not just health issues, but how conservatives work against the majority of women's interests. The facts speak for themselves:

  • A whopping 70% of women (compared to less than half of men) support a minimum wage increase. The Republican House (which is 89% male) voted against it.

  • Most women are paid about .84 cents for every dollar a man makes. Single working mothers can be caught in a cycle of poverty.

  • This past spring all Republicans in the Senate voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act, "which would hold employers more accountable for wage discrimination against women."

  • Republicans also voted against providing long-term unemployment benefits, which undermined many family's finances in a time of struggle.

  • The Affordable Care Act's birth control benefit has saved women in the U.S. $438 million, and conservatives in Congress want to take that away.

  • The Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court allowed certain corporations, on religious grounds, to restrict contraception coverage under the healthcare mandate.

  • 71% of women voters say politicians who support the Hobby Lobby decision are focused on the wrong issues and priorities.

  • Senate Democrats introduced a bill that would restore employers' responsibility to provide contraception coverage for all women. The bill failed to gather the necessary 60 votes; 42 Republicans voted against it.

In a few weeks it is our chance to be heard about legislation and politicians limiting our rights and economic opportunity. When we vote, we win. Don't stay home on Election Day, November 4th. PLEASE EXERCISE YOUR POWER... ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS SHOW UP!