Vote With Your Feet on Abortion
Leverage our Post-Menopausal Freedom after the Dobbs Ruling
If, like me, you’re a woman way past menopause, you don’t have to worry about an unplanned pregnancy derailing or threatening your life. Other things might throw us: an off-calendar heart attack or unexpected cancer. But for those who have long parted ways with our uteri, the Dobbs decision is an insult, not an existential threat.
That gives us leverage. We remember life before Roe, we know exactly how horrific this decision is, but cannot be touched by it personally. In an odd way, this moment reminds me of that brief spell in 2021 when we could get vaccinated against COVID but younger people could not.
Given that we are immune to abortion, how can we use that advantage to benefit our daughters and granddaughters? How to make a difference in ways that others cannot? How to shift the culture, bit by bit?
I’ve long advocated for older women to write our vivid stories as a creative way to push back on ageism and sexism. That journey is a fun revolution. But this moment, when American jurisprudence has turned its back on women’s rights and our elected representatives appear to be dormant, calls for a different and more radical strategy. It’s not enough to howl and wail, however loudly, from the sidelines. So how can we vote with our feet on abortion?
The structure of our republic is such that votes concentrated in a few populous states have much less impact. If you are an older woman living in a progressive environment like California or New York, imagine just for a minute taking your vote and your equity to a swing state: A low(er) cost place like North Carolina or even Texas (take a deep breath, just hear me out). There are progressive havens all over the country in places like Austin and Atlanta and Asheville, places where your vote would count for a lot more than in LA or Manhattan. Your vote could help bring a Democrat to the United States Senate or a progressive to the governor’s chair. And in the next presidential election, your vote could help liberal folks in a less populous state do an end run around the Electoral College.
As an older woman, you will not have to worry about abortion access in your new state. With your children grown and fledged, you will not be affected by inane rules banning certain books in schools. Yet your vote can help change all that for the better.
And meanwhile, your retirement dollars that are taking a beating in the bear market would go much farther. If you cashed in a high priced home, your housing dollars could buy you a palace in North Carolina for the price of a shack in California. A move to a swing state is the very definition of doing well by doing good. It is a key step to reclaim the voice of the majority. It’s voice that would be heard, an especially impactful voice if you get involved in local civic life. Join school boards, knock on doors to support your local political candidate. Take action.
I’m not suggesting you live on a block where your neighbors fly the Confederate battle flag. When I made the move to a swing state four years ago, I opted for a city with a Zen center and two university hospitals, not the rural part of my new home state that is a KKK stronghold. A swing state is a place where almost anyone can find their people, and where a few new folks can shift things their way.
To pick up and move may sound radical, but our radical times require radical measures. The Dobbs decision, draconian as it is, may be only the beginning if we fail to act. Voting with our feet is a kind of activism each of us can do independently—no Constitutional amendment required.
Vote With Your Feet on Abortion
So please think it over. It might sound like fun to move to Portugal and escape the craziness, as some of my friends plan to do. But we bear a responsibility to defend the freedoms enjoyed for so much our lives – freedoms we marched for in the sixties and seventies. We have a particular advantage in this moment as Women of a Certain Age. Stay in the US and move to a swing state. The democracy you save may be your own.