If you have a young daughter, I feel for you today. She will likely be part of the first group of American women to have fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers. If you’re a woman living in a red state, you’re about to have fewer rights than women in blue states.
Unless you were one of the obnoxious guys who refused to stop yelling about the Mets on Twitter long enough to notice the final nail in the coffin of women’s rights (always, ALWAYS with a pic holding their daughter in their avatar), you probably heard the news that a Politico obtained a leaked draft of a Supreme Court majority opinion dated Feb. 10 that purportedly overturns Roe v. Wade, which has been established law in this country since before I was born. I, like most of the women of Gen X and everyone who came after, have never known a world without Roe. Nor have we, in our lifetimes, ever seen the Supreme Court take away a right that has been held to be fundamental by previous courts.
Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that it’s not just women who will be harmed by this ruling. Trans men and non-binary folks also have pregnancies and deserve the right to chose.
Predictably, there was a lot of “cry about it, lib” all over social media last night, as the terror and devastation of what the absence of Roe means for American women sunk in. Also, predictably, those who so gleefully taunted women on Twitter and elsewhere have no idea why overturning Roe is so dangerous, not just for women, but for everyone.
We are currently in the clutches of a minority government that is far, far to the right of where most Americans stand, at least on abortion. A 2021 Pew Research poll found that nearly 60 percent of Americans support the right to abortion in all or most cases. Alas, a one-term president who didn’t win the popular vote managed to appoint three Supreme Court justices, all three of whom reportedly voted with Justice Samuel Alito, allegedly the author of the leaked draft, to overturn Roe. Essentially, it’s a vote to send women back to the days of coat hangers, knitting needles, catheters of bleach, and back alley butchers who charge little and don’t ask questions.
Right now, there are a multitude of “anti-abortion” candidates running for some of the highest positions in our democracy, though we really should call them what they are, which is “forced birthers,” men and women who, for one reason or another, feel they have the right to dictate what their fellow Americans can do with their bodies. One of those candidates is former running back Herschel Walker, currently running for a senate seat in Georgia. Last month, despite not being able to say much of anything coherent on any issue, Walker locked up support from the largest forced-birth group in America, the National Right to Life Committee.” I cannot understand how anyone in good conscience could proudly support abortion,” Walker said on the campaign trail.
So what? Some of you are no doubt saying. Why should I care what Herschel Walker thinks about abortion? First, let me assure you that you know and love someone who has had an abortion. You might now know about it, they might never talk about it, but you do. If, you know, a woman’s right to bodily autonomy doesn’t move you, perhaps some shared sense of humanity with those around you will. Secondly, polls show Walker neck-and-neck, if not ahead, of incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock in his bid for U.S. Senate.
But what many Americans fail to understand is that Roe isn’t just about abortion. It’s part of the “basket of privacy” cases that the Supreme Court decided based on the implied right to privacy conferred on all of us by the word “liberty” in the 14th Amendment. Other cases decided on the same basis include Loving v. Virginia (1967), which upheld the right of Americans from different races to marry. Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), which gave married couples the right to make their own decisions about birth control, without interference from the state (Griswold was later expanded to include unmarried couples as well). Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which struck down state sodomy laws aimed at criminalizing same sex… sex. And, most recently, Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which found that the Constitution protected the right to marry a same-sex partner.
Here’s what Justice Alito had to say about Roe in the leaked draft opinion:
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”
(Casey refers to Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 case that upheld Roe, but gave us the viability standards that have further clouded the abortion debate.)
So, if the reasoning for Roe, which is that the 14th Amendment guarantees women a right to privacy in determining whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term, is wrong, all the rest of the cases that hinge on the right to privacy are also wrongly decided. It won’t end with Roe.
Think I’m exaggerating? We’ve already had one lawmaker, Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), say he believed Loving was wrongly decided and should have been left to the states. In case that wasn’t loud and clear, let me rephrase. A United States Senator, in the year of our lord 2022, said that the issue of interracial marriage should be left to the states. After the obvious public outcry, Braun tried to walk his egregious take back, but I can’t help but think he gave us a glimpse into the things white men whisper about when no one else is around. In Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), said she believed Griswold, which upheld the right to birth control, was wrongly decided and “constitutionally unsound.” In the same hearing, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said that he felt the Supreme Court wrongly intervened in legalizing same-sex marriage.
Does it sound hysterical to say that, in the near future, we could be living in an America where those in red states don’t have access to birth control or same sex marriage? Sure it does. So did living in a world without Roe, multiple men assured me for decades, before last night.
Just this morning, the Washington Post reported that Republicans are expected to push for a national ban on abortion if Roe falls.
Most men (dare I say every man?) would rightly shriek from the rafters if a group of septuagenarian women had the ultimate say on what they could and couldn’t do with their bodies. For women, these men have been around since the dawn of time. They constantly police our anatomies, deeming us to need their firm but guiding hand on when we can have children, when we can’t, how we prevent having children, who we can marry, who is even allowed to call herself a woman. Herschel Walker is one of those men. There are many others, and many who are more culpable, but this is a sports site, and he’s the former athlete running on a forced birth campaign.
We, as a nation, can not afford more men who would seek to control women’s bodies. Nor will we survive what comes after.