Why I'm Voting | Opinion | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Why I'm Voting

City Paper's female writers share which issues matter to them

My best friend was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer at the age of 31. Since then, she’s received chemo, radiation, a double mastectomy, reconstruction surgery, physical therapy, counseling, and what seems like a never-ending cycle of tests and biopsies. Last month, she had her 21st surgery, a lung biopsy which resulted in a celebration: 10 years cancer-free. Still, she constantly worries about recurrence and whether she’ll get to watch her children grow up. What she doesn’t worry about, though, is hospital bills. That’s because she lives in Canada. Would she have made it this far without universal health care? When I vote, I think of her. I think of pre-existing conditions. I think of my dad, who was just diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I think of people who passed away because they couldn’t afford to go to the doctor. When I vote, I think about a better health care system for our future. 

— Lisa Cunningham, editor-in-chief

When I was 16, my mom gave me a wire hanger necklace that belonged to my grandma. I wore it until this past spring when, on the same day as the abortion referendum in Ireland, the necklace broke. My mom said, “Maybe the necklace got too excited about the referendum and tried to jump off its chain.” She sent me a new one, made by an artist who donates proceeds to Planned Parenthood. It’s taboo to be a “single-issue voter,” but access to abortion is not just one issue; it encompasses reproductive rights, bodily autonomy, healthcare access, gender inequity, childcare, sexual assault, poverty. I don’t believe that any candidate who is against abortion access actually cares about the physical and mental health of women and their children, both born and unborn.

— Hannah Lynn, staff writer

One of the reasons I am motivated to vote this year is the legalization of marijuana. And no, it’s not because “oh, this young girl just wants to get high.” In 2015, my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. When medical marijuana became legal in Pennsylvania earlier this year, my dad – who is not a fan of taking a bunch of pills every day – started to phase out some of his medicine, replacing it with THC/CBD tinctures, creams, and oils. My dad now has a natural way to fall asleep. My dad no longer experiences nausea. My dad is no longer in pain. I do not want his access to this therapeutic plant taken away. I vote for him, and every other person who has benefited from medical marijuana.

— Jordan Snowden, staff writer 

Growing up on a working dairy farm exposed me to the many ways climate change affects a person’s life. My parents, who work around 200 acres of land, have withstood increasingly difficult summers, with droughts and crop destruction caused by unusually heavy rains. I’m seeing another side of environmental stress as a resident of Pittsburgh, a city with notoriously bad air and water quality. I recognize now that this is a social justice issue, as the poorest, most vulnerable populations are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change. We need leaders who are committed to tackling it.

— Amanda Waltz, senior writer

Two years ago, after the 2016 election, a good friend married his fiancé. He is an immigrant, brought to the U.S. by his parents. The marriage was accused of being “too fast,” despite the fact that the couple dated for years and were engaged. I watched as he was threatened with deportation. He and his husband, as newlyweds, were forced to consider a separated future. The law blamed him for fraud he didn’t commit. His life was reduced to legal jargon. He became a subject to be passed between lawyers. Months later, the court weighed in his favor. But many aren't so lucky.

— Maggie Weaver, staff writer

Hands off Rafah protest in East Liberty
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Hands off Rafah protest in East Liberty

By Mars Johnson