It’s early Thanksgiving morning; I sit on my couch, coffee in hand, dog sleeping next to me. My thoughts drift to what I’m thankful for. I go through my daily mantra: I’m warm, I’m dry, I’m safe, I have plenty of food, I’m comfortable. But beyond that, what comes to mind today is gratefulness for the particular place and time I came of age in. This altogether happen-chance intersection of geography and era provided me, from my teens through my forties with economic and political access to effective contraceptives, along with the technological means to deliver them to me. It’s staggering to realize what a difference that made.
It is no little good fortune to have lived during this unique and, I’m increasingly aware, precious time and place in history. Women in many other countries did not have the economic means even if contraceptives were available. Others, in my own country, grew up in families or with educational systems (or lack of them) that did not provide them the support and education to access these life altering choices. Thirty years before I was born, the politics and technology did not align.
As I sit here, I consider how differently my life would have unfolded without the option of readily accessible and effective contraceptives. I’m grateful for the scientists who developed these choices. I’m grateful to my family, schools and partner for enabling me to use and make them. I’m grateful to doctors and nurses who provided me with information without judgment. I’m grateful to my government and the politicians who provided me with programs that made the alternatives economically obtainable. And finally, on this day, I’m thankful for the many activists who devoted their lives to making sure that these choices were easily accessible.
The recent vote by the majority of the commissioners (Burrows, Stoltz and Foss) to close our family planning clinic in Ravalli County because of their own sanctimonious religious and political convictions bring these Thanksgiving Day reflections into sharp focus. I realize how fragile and tenuous these choices are for those who need them most. For me, the work I do on this issue today is by way of thanks for those who have come before and the benefits their work made in my life. If our efforts enable one woman to choose whether or not to use contraceptives, we’ve changed a life.
Thinking of you all on Thanksgiving.