I’m Jonathan Chenjeri and I’m running for State Representative in District 56. I write to defend Oregon’s commitment to abortion access and to protect individual liberties. Oregon rightly maintains unrestricted access for women and transgender Oregonians to access reproductive care. The significance of Roe v Wade cannot be understated. Yet, while declared “settled law” by the last three Supreme Court nominees, 26 states stand poised to enact abortion bans, disproportionately affecting poor and rural families. We need a feminist cultural and political change, as well as an economic one – one that expands the idea of ‘care’ and equality for all.
Virginia Woolf wrote (1929) that women could only write novels with some money and “a room of one’s own” – a metaphor for autonomy. Betty Friedan (1963) wrote of unfulfilled middle-class women limited to ‘housework,’ where the unpaid ‘care’ economy further limited opportunity. These struggles are coupled with reproductive choice. While we have rejected the subordination of women as ‘natural’ or ‘God’-given, we struggle with sexual and reproductive independence.
The modern GOP has embraced cultural authoritarianism over cultural pluralism, rejecting the majority of Americans who support access to abortion. In extending rights of bodily autonomy, along with expanding the domain of the ‘care’ economy to men, we move toward a healthier society. This demands we protect our individual liberties and choice. Without, we exacerbate already glaring inequities.
Rural areas uniquely need organizations like Planned Parenthood, a non-profit organization that provides a host of critical health services and community education focusing on inclusion, and body and sex positivity. We need the feminist change: where all can have ‘a room of one’s own,’ fulfilling work, and meaningful relationships. A change with institutions built on care and a deep respect for individuals. We need rural leadership in Oregon to help move us there.