Many of us participate in the time-honored tradition of setting New Year’s Resolutions, full of promise and excitement. I will lose 20 pounds this year! This is my year! I will get a better job that is higher paying! I can feel it! I will read 5 books a month! No problem I can do it! …Only to disappoint ourselves by May (if we’re lucky!) when we have fallen off the enthusiasm wagon, our resolutions having long since been unmet and unexamined.
First of all—it’s ok!!! Think about resolutions this way: they are a tool to recommit to yourself, your ambitions and hopes, and the things you believe in. There isn’t really room in that to fail! Maybe you don’t meet the arbitrary goal you set for yourself (20 pounds! 5 books!) but you have become mindful once again of the ideas and goals that are significant to you, and that is important for all of us to return to, again and again, year after year. This year, how about adding a little pro-choice flavor to your resolutions? Since 2011, the United States has seen a dramatic rise in the number of abortion and contraceptive-restrictive provisions all over the country. Need the hard numbers? Check out the Guttmacher Institute State Policy Reviews here and here (2014 numbers and analysis have not been done yet. But hold on to your hats, a bunch more were proposed and/or passed this year). And the very latest news from Guttmacher shows that in just the last four years, states have enacted 231 abortion restrictions. That means that 57% of women live in a state HOSTILE to abortion rights! While you are thinking about your own personal resolutions, here are some easy pro-choice ideas you can incorporate into your plans for 2015:
- Reach out to your community and share your own abortion story. If you don’t have an abortion story, make sure your friends and family know in no uncertain terms that you are willing to listen to their story. Let’s make 2015 another year of breaking down abortion stigma. Sharing stories is one of the most powerful and simplest ways to do so. Not sure where to start? Check out 1 in 3, the Abortion Conversation Project, and Not Alone.
- Help a friend or family member during her abortion. Offer to drive her to her appointment, stay with her during the wait, or pick her up a special treat and bring to her after. Ask your friend what the best way is for you to support her.
- Inspire the next generation of feminists! Whether it is your children, nieces and nephews, or grandchildren, point out in a kid-appropriate way the tiny (and not so tiny) injustices all around us. Be that cool aunt or uncle who helps to open their eyes to things they might miss without your help.
- Help your state elect more pro-choice politicians! The importance of this, as you know, cannot be understated. We need to show that being pro-choice is an important distinction in elections, and that politicians can be elected because of their position. One organization that is wholly dedicated to electing pro-choice, democratic women is Emily’s List. Check them out for different ways you can get involved. You can also contact the Michigan Democratic Party for more information on your own local group and what you can do to help.
Hopefully this list will help you think of more fun, feminist, and pro-choice resolutions! And how about this for a resolution: instead of beating yourself up over your self-perceived failure in meeting your resolutions, practice some self-forgiveness and compassion. We need a little more of that in the world, too.