BY EMMY LOU CHOLAK
---- — There are many issues at stake in this election year; the rights of minorities, gays, lesbians, immigrants, women are a few examples. As a medical professor at a state university, I was paid less than my male counterparts. They hired a man after they hired me; less qualified than I, paid him more. When I went to inquire about it, the head professor started the conversation with: "If you think we are prejudiced here, we have nothing to talk about."
Well, I agreed we had lots of prejudice here. One of my female family members, a Ph.D. professor at a major Michigan university, has put up with sexual abuse and lower pay for years. Prejudice is alive and well in our nation. Do you want it that way? I don't. It is not good for our women. It is equally terrible for the men in our democratic society. How do we teach our children about fairness with such examples?
No one wants an abortion, no woman, no man and his loved one. But sometimes it becomes necessary, due to many circumstances, too many to enumerate here, including life-threatening conditions. Birthing is a major cause of death in many countries, but not in ours, where we should have good available preventive medical care. An abortion is traumatic for all involved. It is not a form of birth control.
Regular contraception should be free, available for all men and women. The woman is left with the unprotected results, so she especially needs it available, free, safe. I have worked in the inner city and know that poor women want a better life for their children, just like women in the suburbs. For that goal they need equally good medical care, equal pay, free contraception.
Why is women's rights a political issue? It should be an innate right in an advanced society like ours. Aren't we an educated enlightened society? Or is that just for the wealthy?
There is no question Obama states clearly his belief in women's rights; their right to equal pay, their right to free available contraception and, if needed, a safe abortion. With the changing barometer of Romney's ideas, stating what he feels his audience wants to hear, I fear for women's rights. He would defund Planned Parenthood, a major source of contraception and cancer screening for women; he would not support the Lilly Ledbetter equal pay law; he would ban all abortion. I want a more secure future for my family, men and women. That means clearly supporting the rights of all women. It's only fair to men and women.
You may have noted that I include men in my statements for women. Good men want equal pay, opportunities for their families, mothers, sisters, children. The boys and girls of the future will be taught by example that fairness is right and carry this on in the future with their sisters and families. Our Declaration of Independence should read, "All men and women are created equally."
About the author: Emmy Lou Cholak of Traverse City was a pediatrician and then an adolescent and family psychiatrist working in Cincinnati. While a clinical professor of the Medical College, she was an emergency room psychiatrist in a big inner-city hospital and taught interviewing techniques to medical students and emergency psychiatry to emergency medical residents.
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