Mamas on Bedrest: Make Your Voice Count-VOTE!

October 29th, 2012

I went to vote today, early,  and was surprised that I had to wait in line for about 20 minutes before casting my ballot. They say that this year’s presidential election is going to be one of the tightest in history. The margin of victory is likely to be the smallest every. Every vote counts, so Mamas on Bedrest, make your voice count-VOTE!

Now I know that some of you will be put off by the fact that I am making a “political statement” on what is “supposed to be a health care information website”. Well, as they say, the personal is in fact political. What occurs in this election will have far reaching implications for all Mamas on Bedrest. This election is about more than who will be president and who will run congress. As it relates to Mamas on Bedrest, the following issues are up for grabs:

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The United States is the only “industrialized” nation that offers no paid time off for workers to care for their own illnesses, a family member who is ill or to have/bring home/bond with a child (through birth or adoption). The FMLA only provides workers with 12 weeks of unpaid leave with guaranteed job security, i.e. no job loss. After those 12 weeks, employers are free to fire employees and at no time are employers obliged to offer any sort of paid leave. While some employers will offer some paid time off, it varies from employer to employer and dramatically from state to state. What is typically uniform is that workers in the lowest paying jobs-often those who need their jobs the most-are at the greatest risk of losing income, financial security and their jobs. If you would like to see FMLA changed, see the work of the National Partnership for Women and Families, MomsRising and WorkingMother Magazine. Also, VOTE and let your elected officials know that this is an issue that is important to you!

Mandatory Obstetrical Care: Now I can hear some of you saying, Whaaaaat????  Yup, many of our mamas became pregnant only to find out that obstetric care is not part of their health insurance policy and care had to be purchased (prior to pregnancy of course!) as a separate rider on their health insurance policy.  So imagine the strain that this places on the family finances when mama has a complication requiring her to be on bed rest?  Yes, I think you get the picture. The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) covers obstetrical care. If you think that this is a good thing, VOTE accordingly.

Education: The Department of Education has been targeted for budget cuts as well as complete closure. While our public schools are having their problems, without them, many children will be without any sort of education. Regardless of whether your children (or prospective children) will go to public, private or homeschool, education is an important element for our nations citizens. Voice your VOTE accordingly.

Healthcare Research: The National Institutes of Health grants millions of dollars annually to researchers studying a wide variety of health issues and diseases. Wouldn’t it be great if they allocated some additional funds for research on high risk pregnancy prevention? The federal government in part determines what gets studies by where they allocate funds. If you want more research and treatments for the conditions leading to bed rest, VOTE, make your voice known and let your elected officials know what is important to you.

Medicaid: Thousands of women are uninsured and receive their health care by the government subsidized program Medicaid. While the care is definitely not at the level of private obstetrical care, it is prenatal care none the less; prenatal care that many women would otherwise not have access to and be at increased risk of pregnancy complications, preterm labor, preterm birth and a premature infant with potentially life long health complications. While I agree that the Medicaid program leaves much to be desired, it is providing some benefit. Additionally, it’s a lot easier to fix a broken system than to try to get a whole new system entirely. If you don’t believe me, ask the women of Mamas of Color Rising here in Austin. They worked with several concerned groups and presented a rules change to the Texas Medicaid. The rules change is still being deliberated, but if it passes, Texas women receiving Medicaid will be able to receive prenatal care from and be attended by certified professional midwives, and those midwives will be reimbursed by medicaid. Mamas of Color Rising has also help start a free prenatal health clinic.  To learn more about Mamas of Color Rising, listen to this podcast interview with co-founder Paula Rojas.

These are just some of the issues that come to mind when I think of Mamas on Bedrest. I am sure that there are others, and do correct me on any thing that I have left out or you feel misrepresented. However, don’t miss the point of all of this-VOTE!

I want to end this post with something to think about. In the late teens and early 1920’s, thousands of women took a stand and demanded the right to vote. Some of them were beaten, many were arrested and many even died so that we now have the right to vote.

In the 1960’s, African Americans were the next sub segment of the US population to demand the right to vote. (without absurd, extraneous requirements and qualifications). They marched, they were attacked by dogs, they were drenched by fire hoses and many died in the cause of the Civil Rights act.  When I think of all that so many Americans have gone through so that I have the right to vote, it seems beyond disrespectful to me that I wouldn’t show up at a local voting center and cast my ballot.

But I’m on Bedrest! No worries. Here’s a few ways that you can vote.

Stop by and vote early on the way home from your next OB visit (If it’s on or before November 6th). Since it’s probably your only outing of late, see if you can extend it a bit and stop by an early voting center. The grocery store at which I voted this morning even had chairs for those unable to stand and a voting booth that had a chair and sat low enough for those in wheel chairs.

Absentee Ballot. Here in Texas, you have until tomorrow to request and absentee ballot. The cut off is likely different in different states, so contact your state’s voting board and see if you can still obtain a ballot. In some areas, someone can pick up the ballot for you. Most places will mail you a ballot. Absentee ballots typically have to be in to the election officials by the close of the polls on voting day, so if you intend to vote absentee, get your ballot ASAP and get it in to your state election officials. (Note: someone can also hand deliver your ballot for you! Check with your local officals.)

Ladies, I’m not telling you who to vote for, but I am sharing with you some issues important to Mamas on Bedrest. The bottom line is that you need to vote. This is not the year to sit things out because you are on bed rest. You can and should still vote. In an election where the margin of victory is estimated to be mere points, every vote will certainly count. So “stand up” and be counted. VOTE!

Image Courtesy of Brian Petty Designs.

One response to “Mamas on Bedrest: Make Your Voice Count-VOTE!”

  1. Leda says:

    I agree! It’s so important that bedrest mamas get out and vote! I blogged about it today, too! My OB gave me permission to vote in a wheelchair. She also suggested calling the town clerk ahead of time so that I could skip the line. Talk about voter mobilization efforts!

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