Hope: 5 Thoughts about Abortion
If things aren't going your way, read this.
We should all be on the side of protecting abortion access. Yet, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Having worked in reproductive justice in the United States for nearly 20 years, I want to share five quick thoughts to provide hope.
Photo: 📸 Attending the Golden Probes a few years ago.
#1. We can predict the future.
Those of us working in sexual and reproductive health, rights, education, and justice saw this coming. We sounded alarms as loud and often as we could.
We knew because this is our space. We worked at health care centers that were bombed or received threats. We attended George Tiller’s funeral. We published research and wrote op-eds. We organized Hill briefings, protested at the Supreme Court, and testified in Congress and elsewhere. We opposed Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. We told you Susan Collins was likely either stupid or lying.
Republicans said we were overreacting. They called us dramatic. Hysterical.
Yet, here we all are. Given we predicted this day would come, we likely have more ears listening now. So, trust us when we tell you this: It is going to get worse. We know courts in the U.S. have already started jailing women who’ve had miscarriages. Why? Because an abortion is simply a controlled termination. Miscarriage is the body’s spontaneous termination of a pregnancy. With abortion now illegal in some states, if you can’t prove your termination was a miscarriage, you may risk prison. Good luck with getting someone to believe you because, if all states actually trusted women, we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.
Things will be bad, perhaps for a little while, maybe longer.
Either way, I believe we will eventually arrive at the other side of this. Have hope. The quicker we get through this depends on several factors, including how many of us fight. This brings me to my next point.
#2. The importance of human rights is more obvious.
Saying Roe vs. Wade is about states rights is like claiming the U.S. Civil War was too. Surprise, shawty! The former was about putting women in their place. The latter was an attempt to put Black folks in theirs. In both cases, this is the central, driving question.
Are ___ sentiment human beings who deserve full autonomy over their bodies and, indeed, their lives? Or, do others have the right to have dominion over them?
You deserve basic fundamental rights simply because you are a human being. It shouldn't matter where your live. We all need to get on board with that a bit more in these United States. With more folks scratching their heads about state-specific rights under Roe, we might get to a point where we more fully embrace human rights.
#3. People who support abortion are the majority.
Most people in the United States support abortion access, regardless of political party. Remember: Less than 10 people were involved with overturning Roe, nine people to be exact. Among them, four wanted to keep it. The other five only got to vote because a bunch of dudes with power (i.e. not the American people as a whole) let them. Further, of those five people, three were appointed by a President who didn’t even win the popular vote.
This new ruling won’t last because most Americans don’t agree with it.
#4. We now know ‘states rights’ is a ruse — or at least we should know that.
Roe ripped up federal laws to give U.S. states full dominion over abortion. Well, hell, if we’re going to start doing that, we need to rip up Obergefell v. Hodges, too! That ruling stopped states from banning LGBTQIA+ people from marrying each other. Or, how about Loving vs. Virginia? That ruling stopped states from literally dragging interracial couples out of their beds, hauling them to jail, and charging them with miscegenation. What about the Voting Rights Act that made it illegal to bar Black folks from voting? Are we going to rip all of that up, too?
If that sounds dramatic or hysterical, please re-read the beginning of this letter more carefully. I mean, really, this sentence is verbatim from the Texas GOP’s platform: “We urge that the Voting Rights Act of 1965, codified and updated in 1973, be repealed and not reauthorized.”
Here in Portugal, LGBTQ couples, married in the U.S., consisting of one American partner and one Portuguese partner are asking what will happen to their immigration status if the GOP comes after Obergefell and their marriage is deemed no longer valid.
Even the Supreme Court itself says more attacks could be on the way soon. The full text of the dissent is excerpted below.
“The lone rationale for what the majority does today is that the right to elect an abortion is not ‘deeply rooted in history’ […] The same could be said, though, of most of the rights the majority claims it is not tampering with. The majority could write just as long an opinion showing, for example, that until the mid-20th century, ‘there was no support in American law for a constitutional right to obtain [contraceptives].’ […] So one of two things must be true. Either the majority does not really believe in its own reasoning. Or if it does, all rights that have no history stretching back to the mid19th century are insecure. Either the mass of the majority’s opinion is hypocrisy, or additional constitutional rights are under threat.”
We have to get to a point where we stop believing shit that affects other folks won’t affect us. Some folks learn the hard way. They will soon. We already told you they were coming after birth control. Now, the Supreme Court itself just told you the Roe ruling makes that possible.
#5. We’ll get back to this.
In life, sometimes things don’t go our way. In the wake of September 11, 2001, I listened to a really good This American Life segment about making sense of nonsense.
Episode 193: Stories of Loss.
You can listen to the whole thing, but I’ll share the story that really resonated with me: Act I, The Disappearance. Genevieve Jurgensen receives a call from her brother-in-law Christian.
Genevieve’s sister, her sister’s husband (Christian), their baby, and Genevieve’s two little girls were traveling in a vehicle. A drunk driver struck the car, killing Genevieve’s two little girls. Everyone else was fine, including the drunk driver.
About the call Genevieve says, “We thought he was playing a joke on us and then [we] thought no one would play a joke in such poor taste.”
At her daughters’ funeral, a woman consoled her with the following words.
“She said, ‘You will see. You can get used to anything.’ It is certainly the most simple, true, brutal, and perceptive thing that anyone said to me at the time. You could interpret it either as a message of hope or of crushing contempt for human nature.”
This is how I feel about Roe. While I do believe we’ll arrive on the other side of this, and things will get better, it’s awful that we have to suffer through such losses. Roe has been decided for now. This is hardly the end of the story.
Lovers, please guard your peace during these times. 🕊