Dear Senator McSally: Healthcare is a Human Right

The Democratic National Convention has been interesting, to say the least. I have enjoyed watching the wonders of technology to accommodate social distancing. My favorite part of the convention, though, was the speeches from Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris. Strong women with strong voices.

In contrast, I have been very disappointed Senator Martha McSally, one of Arizona’s strong female voices in Congresses. Today I sent her a letter to let her know why I am disappointed in her. This is what I wrote.

Dear Senator McSally,

My name is Serena Freewomyn. I live in Tucson, and I have lived in Arizona for almost all of my life. My stepfather was a jet mechanic for the Airforce. My grandfather was a company clerk for the Army, and his brother served in the Marines. My great-grandfather was an engineer for the Navy. My husband’s grandfather was also an engineer for the Navy, and his brother-in-law served two tours in Iraq for the Army. Needless to say, I have pride for everyone who serves the United States, including you.

I feel proud of your fight to have women’s service in the US military held to the same recognition as men’s service. You took leadership to have bipartisan support for the Women’s Memorial. You demanded that women should be buried in Arlington Cemetery. You even took Donald Rumsfeld to the Supreme Court of the United States to allow women to fly into combat. You have shown bravery in the face of sexism. And I admire you.

I do not admire, however, you standing beside Donald Trump and allowing him and his cronies in Congress to restrict access to universal healthcare. Even before the COVID epidemic, you supported rescinding the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare.”) I am a thirty-nine year old woman who has spent the last decade scheduling her life around chemotherapy, radiation, speech therapy, physical therapy, and naturopathy treatments.

I was diagnosed with a stage-3 brain tumor in February of 2012, just as Obamacare went into effect. I am very Blessed that an anonymous federal employee waited with me while she passed my application up the food chain. I was approved for the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan the day before I went in for my next MRI. I was (and still am) able to get chemotherapy and radiation.

The Affordable Care Act was up for repeal in the summer of 2017. Senator John McCain had just announced that he had been diagnosed with the same type of tumor I had. I wrote to him asking him to vote in favor of the ACA. I explained my story to him and told him that I admired his service to this country, both as a senator, and as a service member who was a POW during the Vietnam War. I told him that he had the privilege of getting medical treatment, both as a member of Congress, as well as having VA hospital access. I don’t know if my letter had any influence on his decision, but he did vote to keep the ACA in place.

I am alive today because of Obamacare. I am alive today because of Senator McCain’s vote.

This is an election season, and so political ads are expected. Captain Mark McSally’s campaign has a positive tone. Your political ads have been virulent. Both or you served in the military. Both of you have accomplished amazing things for our national. However, I cannot support a candidate who doesn’t respect the basic human right of access to healthcare. Please remember that you were NOT elected to the senate. You inherited that position. If you expect to win the 2020 election, you need to appeal to all of the constituents in Arizona, not just the Trump supporters.
Thank you again for your service. Women value strong female voices in leadership positions. I hope you will take this into consideration.

All of the DNC speakers this week highlighted multiple issues in their speeches. Healthcare is my number one issue. If a candidate doesn’t support it, I can’t support them. Period. I hope equal access matters to you, too.


I’m Ready for Hillary

hillary-clinton-2016I launched this blog last week and announced my intention of spotlighting women’s work. Neither word has a stable definition. I have spent my entire life trying to figure out what my definition of “woman” means. I look to women I know on a personal level, as well as well-known public figures and I realize that gender is a performance and we all interpret our gender roles differently. Some of the strongest women I know are stay-at-home mothers. I admire them just as much as I admire women who work in predominantly “masculine” fields. Take politics for instance.

When I was in elementary school, I used to tell people that I was going either going to be a quarterback for the 49’ers or president of the United States when I grew up. I saw female astronauts on TV. Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Mary (my namesake) was the Mother of Jesus . . . It never even dawned on me that women couldn’t aspire to be anything they wanted to be.

I endorse Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. I want to tie my endorsement of Hillary to the discussion of “women’s work.” In Spring of 2007, I heard Gloria Steinem give a speech about why feminism is still relevant. An audience member asked Ms. Steinem if she supported Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. Steinem didn’t even hesitate with her response. She asked the audience members to think about the shoes of the women who supported Hillary Clinton. “These are working women’s shoes. Women who work as nurses, teachers, waitresses, customer service providers . . .” Steinem said that Hillary Clinton was interested in women having financial independence so that they could take care of themselves and their families. I agreed with Gloria Steinem’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton, and I still do. [Read more…]