In 1920, the definition of “We the People” in the preamble of the Constitution was redefined to include women, thus allowing suffrage for all.
Before this, women weren’t considered people.
Their bodies, their wages, their children weren’t their own.
Women were owned by their husbands - not even allowed to file for divorce.
It’s been almost 100 years since Amelia Bloomer petitioned Congress to either relieve her “from the burden of taxation” or allow her to vote.
Or Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who partnered up to lead the National American Woman Suffrage Association and won our right to vote.
So women are considered people now.
Women can vote on election day.
But I still don’t feel as if I own my body, or my future.
Today in the National Archives, I read about Margaret Sanger, a nurse who coined the term “birth control” after her mother was pregnant 18 times in 22 years.
In 1916, Sanger was arrested for advocating and educating women on different forms of contraception.
It was almost 22 years later when, in 1938, Sanger was involved in a Supreme Court case that lead to a judge lifting the federal ban on different birth control options. In 1950, 12 years later, Sanger raised the money to start research for the modern birth control pill.
Sanger, Anthony and Stanton moved women’s rights strides forward, yet women still don’t own their bodies.
I’m afraid that 100 years after Sanger was first arrested for opening a birth control clinic, I will, too be unable to make my own decisions regarding my own body.
I’m not alone in this worry.
Since President-Elect Donald Trump was elected, women everywhere are facing the reality that access to women’s health services might be limited once Trump is in office.
These worries aren’t unfounded. Trump advertised himself as the president who was going to punish women who get abortions; he touted the fact that he was going to defund Planned Parenthood and he plans to repeal Obamacare, which makes birth control free.
According to Slate, demand for IUD’s, a form of contraceptive that will protect women from pregnancy for at least five years, has risen 900 percent since the election.
Free birth control isn’t going to be guaranteed under Trump’s presidency as it is now.
With changes like this potentially on the horizon, what other progress could be reversed in the coming years?
The progress made by Sanger, who helped develop birth control in her 80’s, could be lost.
Bloomer, one of the first to call the government out for hypocrisy toward women - her legacy could be wrought meaningless.
And Stanton and Anthony who suffered for suffrage - could have done it all...for what?
For decisions about women’s bodies, women’s wages, women’s families and women’s futures to be made by somebody else.
To be made by a rich man in a big house who has shown seemingly little regard for the wellbeing of women.