Recently, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), a nonpartisan, independent research organization, released a poll that shows younger Americans are more supportive of abortion rights than older Americans, and more importantly, that their views are becoming more supportive over time.
But certain members of the Ohio Legislature do not seem to care about what young people want from their elected officials. In fact, in this legislative session alone, nine bills have been introduced that attack abortion rights either indirectly, through reduced funding of community health clinics and targeted restrictions on abortion providers, or directly, through full-out abortion bans. One such bill signed on to by 20 republican legislators went as far as including potential murder prosecutions against women and doctors who either obtain or perform the service.
To put this in perspective, the very same legislators that allegedly care about human life, would also be fine with charging a desperate women with a capital offense, punishable by death. This does not add up. And being a millennial myself, I can see why young people are not buying it.
In a state where name recognition is the key to winning elections and where political dynasties have reigned for generations, one wonders what tactics they are employing. Many young Americans of voting age have never known a world where the internet and Google didn’t exist. Finding information about candidates and a politician’s voting record is now easier than ever before. Catering to the whims of older generations and interest groups such as Right to Life and Faith2Action might work at the present moment--where states like Ohio are politically gerrymandered in favor of one party, and where jobless millennials are understandably, even if incorrectly, cynical about whether voting for any candidate is going to have any discernable impact on their lives—but it’s not sustainable in the long term.
If the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and March for Our Lives, show us anything, it’s that young people do care about issues that affect the country and that they will come out to the polls and will voraciously support candidates and policies they believe in. It is anticipated that 2019 is the first year that millennials will outnumber baby boomers as the nation’s largest living adult population. Through collective power we can make collective change! And abortion rights is just one of many issues that millennials align on.
Human rights, the environment, jobs, benefits, healthcare, and the prospect of one day retiring before the age of 90 is what’s on most of our minds.
To many of us, the fact that lawmakers are spending so much time, energy, and money coming up with, passing, and defending anti-abortion legislation, is a real slap in the face. And we are not the only ones that think this, according to the same poll by PRRI, seventy-percent of all Americans polled say that lawmakers are spending too much time and attention on abortion issues. This is a sentiment that pervades democrat, republican, and independent circles.
At a time when Ohio’s poverty rate is higher than the national average, the state is in the midst of a raging opioid crisis and young people everywhere are struggling to get jobs, attacking abortion rights should not be a priority. Can we, in good conscience, stand by and watch politicians attack abortion rights during an opioid epidemic? Are we seriously going to allow elected officials to squabble over women’s reproductive rights when so many Ohioans are living in poverty? I don’t think so.
Come on young people, get out and vote!