Why don’t you just leave?
Posted by Paul
October 30, 2014
I was born in Kansas. I have always lived in Kansas. All of my family and friends also live in Kansas. I love living here. I don’t plan on leaving my home any time soon. However, there is just one problem: Kansas doesn’t always love me back.
You see, in Kansas, people that think like me have very little political power. As advocates for reproductive justice, our concerns and campaigns often come up short. We live in an extremely anti-choice political culture. Kansas has some of the strictest abortion-related laws in the country. It can be a very challenging and frustrating environment to do this work.
The solution we are always offered to remedy this situation is to leave. Many people might ask us why we don’t leave if we care so much about these issues. Growing up as a progressive, my plan was always to get through college and head towards the coast. It just seems so much easier, to pack up and head for “greener” pastures (pun intended).
I think this solution is lacking in many ways. But the biggest problem I have with it is that it isn’t a solution that works for everyone. Some people can’t afford to move, some can’t leave a family or a job, and others simply choose to stay put. When we tell people to leave their home in search of more reproductive freedom, we are ignoring those who can’t or won’t move. And their rights matter just as much as yours or mine. The struggles of being in an already vulnerable low-income status are intensified when those of us with the time, money, and passion to fight against these policies decide to take our talents elsewhere.
Recently, Kansas has had more people stepping out and making their voice heard about these issues. As a result, with the election less than a week away, it seems like we could have some changes in who our elected officials are. This shows that maybe Kansas isn’t the lost cause we’re made out to be. When we build our power together, we can make a dent in the dominance by extremists at the state level. But, in order for us to be able to build this power over time, we have to stick around! For those of us that truly want to do this work, there is no place more crucial, where our work is needed more than in red states like Kansas.
No one should be forced to leave their home in order to get the rights they deserve. No one should feel the need to move away to be treated like a human being. But change doesn’t happen overnight. As part of the younger generation, the future of the movement lies largely in our hands. And if all of us young, progressive, passionate people move to areas of the country where there is already an accepting climate for reproductive justice, then areas like my home of Kansas will never be able to make strides on those issues. While we should be able to do what we want with our lives, we also should feel some responsibility for staying where we are to fight for the communities we live in, because if we don’t do it, there may not be anyone else who will.