After my initial reaction to the Supreme Court ruling today – rage quickly turned to heartbreak, back to rage, then tears, more rage, ending with a physical sickness like I’d been kicked in the gut. Now, several hours later, I just feel sick, physically sick. I’ve wanted to throw up all day.
It’s a kind of shock. We were told – we were warned – this was coming but we couldn’t quite believe it. Like a parent who dies from a long-term illness, it’s still a shock when they die. For fifty years Roe v Wade was enshrined as law in the constitution. And now it’s gone. Just like that. It’s like we woke up to a world where a guaranteed constitutional right, something we took completely for granted, say, free speech, was taken away. Or, more specifically, if we woke up and women were no longer allowed to drive, like in Saudi Arabia. Or girls were no longer allowed to go to school, like in Afghanistan under the Taliban. You get my drift.
Choose your own simile (or metaphor). There are many.
It’s late afternoon and I feel emotionally spent. I feel weak. I’m still fighting the urge to drop to my knees – to the floor, and just lay there. Defeated. I feel like … they have won. They’ve taken away, not just a woman’s choice, but her autonomy, her agency over her own body, they have taken away a woman’s freedom. We woke up and women no longer had the right to make health care decisions about our own bodies. Men were, women weren’t. Women were infantilized. We now need men to make decisions for us. We are not free in this country. Freedom is a joke for women. And of course, especially for women of color. Let’s not kid ourselves, abortion will always be available to women who have the means to obtain one, regardless of what state in which they live.
You don’t believe me? Just wait. Wait until a young pregnant woman tries to leave her anti-abortion red state to seek an abortion in a pro-choice blue state. Wait until they start criminalizing women who seek abortions, or those who help them – doctors, nurses, friends, family, Lyft drivers. Wait until the first woman is charged with murdering her baby and put in prison, followed by more such women. Just wait. When it happens, don’t act shocked. Never underestimate the hatred men have for women’s power and the control women have over their own bodies.
Yes, we will march. Again. And again. And again. Just like we did in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s. And we will VOTE. And maybe, just maybe this decision will be the catalyst that stops the rip current pulling us all under in this country. Maybe. But, with this Supreme Court, I have little hope. I am 71. I’ve been fighting this fight my whole life it seems. Our daughters and granddaughters have just lost their freedom, they have fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers. They have fewer rights than boys and men and have been legally deemed unworthy of making their own health care decisions.
This ruling will seep into the very psyche of every child – in ways we can’t see now. Girls: you are stupid. Boys: girls are stupid. Don’t believe me? Think I’m over-reacting? I’m full of hyperbole? Then let’s imagine the opposite. What if we lived in a country where the law and leaders (all women) had faith in a woman’s right to make decisions about her own health, her life, her body, her family. And made child care, maternal care, and families truly the top economic value and priority? What messages do you think that world would send to our children?
For that I am beyond heartbroken. No matter what happens, we have lost so much today. Right now I feel defeated and empty. In the coming days I will gather my wits and energy to fight on, to march again, to get out the vote. We can’t give up. I will go to my grave marching and fighting the good fight. In the name of RGB and John Lewis, we will continue to make good trouble. There is no other choice but that.