Amendment 1 is a giant step back for West Virginia women

Since last week, we’ve had a midterm election and received the results. I was so excited to vote; I took my time to educate myself on who I was voting for, and maybe more importantly, on the amendments I could vote for. When I heard about the Amendment One on the West Virginia ballot this midterm, I was shocked. This amendment is a giant step in the direction of the stripping of women’s rights in this state. As a young woman who has grown up here and is going to be living here throughout her young adult life, it is hard to watch a majority of the people in your state vote in favor of a ballot measure that restricts your ability to make decisions about your own body. I have done my homework on what exactly it entails, and I know it does not make the termination of a pregnancy illegal, but for so many women in our region, when you take away their financial assistance, they cannot afford to do so, no matter the circumstances they may be in. It was the one thing I made sure to tell everyone in the state who could vote when they asked me what exactly was on the midterm ballot: “Vote no on amendment one.” Yet, here we are a week out from election day, and it seems as if there are more people in the state who disagree with me than the number of people who feel like I do. 

This is where my conflict stems from. I love my state, I have spent my entire life here, and going to college here has only made me appreciate it more, but we cannot make headlines for moving the progression of women’s rights back in time. I am proud of where I am from but so disappointed in the amount of people that live here and who feel this way toward women. I’m not trying to force my beliefs and views on anyone else. Pro-life or pro-choice, that’s up to you. But this is not a matter of letting people believe what they think is morally right or wrong. This is about preventing women from doing what they know is best for them, wherever they may be in their lives and whatever circumstances have lead them to this decision. I am a young woman in West Virginia, and I know now more than ever that I want to help those in this area who are as terrified by this election result as I am. With every surge forward in progress, there is always a push backward. I believe that this is the push backward we have been given, and the one I am going to work to fight against. If you’re a West Virginia woman and feel the way I do, know I’m with you, and I believe we can work together to retain those rights that so many are trying to take from us. This week, I couldn’t talk about an issue that’s only affecting me because I am a freshman, because this is so much bigger and so much more important as a college student and a woman, and this is an important step in how I am entering the world on my own for the first time. 

Rileigh Smirl can be contacted at [email protected]