The #MeToo movement has sparked national conversations around issues like harassment in the workplace and access to reproductive services.
Local freelance reporter Margaret Wright took questions on these issues to some New Mexico candidates for her series on NMPoliticalReport.com. She interviewed people running for U.S. House and Senate as well as for New Mexico governor. She spoke with Public Health New Mexico’s May Ortega.
WRIGHT: The questions were pretty far-ranging. And I think you can see, reading the series, that positions were pretty uniform based on party affiliation. I found it interesting – I think it was the second question I asked all the candidates, was whether or not they believed health care is a human right. It was pretty fascinating to see that all of the Democratic party candidates said almost steadfastly that they believed it is, whereas Republican and several of the Libertarian candidates were much more measured or even said that they did not believe it was a human right.
KUNM: You also profiled gubernatorial hopeful, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham. Although her Republican opponent, Steve Pearce, chose not to participate. What did she have to say and what would you have liked to include from Pearce?
WRIGHT: Michelle Lujan Grisham went into pretty expansive detail about things like why she believes there should be a careful separation between government and religion. She was really steadfast about health care being a human right. She also went into a state law from 1968 that dictates the provision of abortion is actually a fourth-degree felony – still on the books. And that could be really important if there are changes at the federal level in terms of the legality of abortion and abortion access.
KUNM: What would you have liked to include from Steve Pearce if you had spoken to him?
WRIGHT: I would have loved to hear him talk in detail about all of those issues. I tried multiple times to speak to him and the media liaison. I told him that I thought that these issues are always important and that particularly in this election climate when there’s a Supreme Court nominee up for consideration, when there’s a state law in New Mexico books that criminalizes abortion, it seems particularly relevant, but unfortunately, they declined.
KUNM: The #MeToo movement has been driving a lot of conversations about how people, and especially women, should feel safe and respected, including at work. How is this conversation evolving as we head into the mid-term election?
WRIGHT: One thing that I’ve been hoping to see is that there’s a better understanding of the fact that the #MeToo movement is about workplace protections. And a lot of people – including a couple of the candidates who I talked to – were conflating sexual assaults and crimes like that with the #MeToo movement and I think it is really important to reinforce that #MeToo is essentially advocacy for workplace protections.
KUNM: You are reporting on things like abortion and childcare, things that are often defined as ‘women’s issues’ - but you disagree with that, you even wrote a piece about it earlier this year. Why doesn’t that definition work for you?
WRIGHT: Because in my estimation, all issues are women’s issues, and it diminishes them by relegating them to that sort of a label. It’s something I wanted to be really clear about. Although I do think that there are topics like abortion, child rearing that tend to be framed as predominantly women’s issues, and even on those fronts, I think they have widespread application outside of just the experiences of women.
Support for KUNM’s Public Health New Mexico project comes from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the McCune Charitable Foundation, the Con Alma Health Foundation, and from KUNM listeners like you.