Dear Future President,
My name is Isabel. I'm an eighth grade student from a small school in Boston, MA called Meridian Academy. I am writing this letter to you to address one of the biggest conflicts that our country encounters. I believe that women should have as much control over their bodies as men do. In most situations, women don't have the same rights as men. We aren't taken as seriously as men, and we can't make the same decisions as them even about the smallest topics. We need to make sure that women have control over what is most important; their own bodies.
In the US women can't get easy affordable abortions, there is a "luxury" tax on menstrual products, women don't have easy or cheap access to contraceptive products, and in most states sex ed is not required in schools. No matter what your religious or political beliefs are, you do not have the right to make decisions for women that could put their health in jeopardy. In the first 3 months of 2013, Republicans helped to pass nearly 700 laws regulating women's bodies. Most of these laws were attempts to make abortions more difficult or to ban them all together. In 2014, more than 450 laws were proposed, to again, regulate women's bodies. In this same period of time exactly 0 laws were proposed to regulate men's bodies.
Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973, and it gives women their constitutional right to privacy which makes it possible for anyone with a uterus to obtain safe, legal abortions. It doesn't matter if something is legal if it's not accessible. Abortions are currently legal, but this right is being attacked all over the country. States are constantly creating laws that make it more difficult for someone to get a safe abortion. For example, in many states there are waiting periods for someone in search of an abortion. In some states, abortion clinics are so scarce that people have to travel to different states to get an abortion. The waiting period makes it harder to get an abortion, because after meeting with the abortion provider, you have to wait up to 36 hours before before the procedure. A lot of clinics are being shut down because of laws saying that abortion clinic hallways have to meet the regulation size of 8 feet that hospitals must have. Hospital hallways must be 8 feet wide, because they have to be able to fit two surgical gurneys side by side. Most abortions in the US aren't surgical, so it is not necessary to fit two surgical gurneys side by side in one hallway. When a person who really needs to get an abortion can't access a clinic it is very likely that they will still find a way to terminate the pregnancy. It will likely be self-induced and very dangerous. These laws are just attempts to over ride Roe v. Wade, and they are having serious repercussions on women's health.
In the United States, almost 40 states have a "luxury" tax on menstrual products. A luxury tax is said to be for products that are deemed unnecessary or unessential. This is why products like groceries do not have a luxury tax, because food is a necessity. Women do not simply decide to get their periods. This tax affects anyone with a uterus even though we have no control over the cost of menstrual products. The average person with a uterus spends almost $2,000 dollars on tampons in a lifetime. That isn't even including all of the other products that we need to get through our period. States like Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey have decided not to put a tax on menstrual products. As the president of the United States you should encourage state leaders to follow the lead of these states and abolish the "pink tax". This small change could be a big step for everyone with a uterus.
Sex education is only required to be taught in 24 states, and only 20 states require that the curriculum is medically accurate. In 26 states, it is required that sex education classes stress that abstinence is the best strategy. In 2010 the national teen pregnancy rate went down 9%. Yet Mississippi still has the highest teen pregnancy rate, at 55 births for every 1000 girls. Mississippi does not require sex ed to be taught in schools. If it is taught it is abstinence based. It is proven that abstinence sex education is ineffective and just leads to more teen pregnancies. You should give girls the resources they need to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies and STDs. This way fewer young girls will have to grapple with the difficult decision of getting an abortion.
Our country's women's health rights are just another display of sexism. We have primarily men making decisions for women about their bodies. The government is making the most personal decisions for women, and I believe you should make it a top priority to make sure that this no longer happens.