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 are a woman living in a red state, you have fewer rights than women in blue states.
Unless you were one of those obnoxious guys who refused to yell about the Mets on Twitter long enough to notice the final nail in the coffin of women’s rights (always, ALWAYS with a picture of their daughter in her avatar), you’ve probably heard news that a politico allegedly received a leaked draft of a Feb. 10 Supreme Court majority opinion falls Roe v. calf, which was the law in force in this country before I was born. I, like most Generation X women and everyone who came after, never knew a world without Roe. We have also never in our lifetime seen the Supreme Court take away a right that previous courts considered fundamental.
Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that it’s not just women who are harmed by this ruling. Trans men and non-binary people also have pregnancies and deserve the right to vote.
Predictably, there was a flurry of “cries about it, lib” on social media last night as terror and devastation spilled over what Roe’s absence means for American women. Predictably, even those who so gleefully mocked women on Twitter and elsewhere have no idea why tipping over 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 most American opinion, at least when it comes to abortion. That’s according to a 2021 Pew Research poll nearly 60 percent of Americans support the right to abortion in all or most cases. Unfortunately, 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, alleged author of the leaked draft, to overthrow Roe. Essentially, it’s a vote to send women back to the days of hangers, knitting needles, bleaching catheters and back-alley butchers who ask little and ask no questions.
Right now there are a multitude of “anti-abortion” candidates running for some of the highest positions in our democracy, although we really should call them what they are, which are “forced births,” men and women born of a Reason some feel they have the right to dictate what their fellow Americans are allowed to do with their bodies. One of those candidates is former running back Herschel Walker, who is currently running for a Senate seat in Georgia. Last month, although I couldn’t say much coherently on any subject, Walker has caged support from the largest forced birth group in America, the National Right to Life Committee. “I can’t understand how anyone in good conscience could proudly support abortion,” Walker said on the campaign trail.
So what? Some of you say undoubtedly. 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 know about it now, they might never talk about it, but you do. If you know that a woman’s right to bodily autonomy doesn’t move you, perhaps a shared sense of humanity with those around you will. Second, polls show that Walker is level with, if not ahead of, incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock in running for the US Senate.
But what many Americans don’t understand is that Roe isn’t just about abortion. It is part of the “basket of privacy” cases decided by the Supreme Court based on the implicit right to privacy bestowed on us all by the word “liberty” in the 14th Amendment. Other cases decided on the same basis are Loving v. Virginia (1967), who affirmed the right of interracial Americans to marry. Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), which gave married couples the right to make their own birth control decisions without state interference (Griswold was later extended to unmarried couples as well). Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which struck down state sodomy laws aimed at criminalizing same-sex sex. And finally Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) who found that the Constitution protects the right to marry a same-sex partner.
Here’s what Judge Alito had to say about Roe in the leaked draft opinion:
“Roe was terribly wrong from the start. His reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision had harmful consequences. And far from bringing about a national solution to the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have ignited debate and deepened divisions.”
(Casey refers to Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 case that confirmed Roe but provided us with the profitability standards that have further tarnished the abortion debate.)
So if Roe’s reasoning that the 14th Amendment guarantees women a right to privacy when it comes to whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term is wrong, then so is all other cases where privacy rights are concerned hang out wrong decided. It won’t end with Roe.
Do you think I’m exaggerating? We already had a lawmaker, Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), say he believed love had been wrongly chosen and should have been left to the States. If that wasn’t loud and clear, let me rephrase it. A United States Senator said in the year of our Lord 2022 that the issue of interracial marriage should be left to the states. After the apparent public outcry, Braun attempted to bring back his outrageous opinion, but I can’t help but think he’s given us some insight into the things white men gossip about when no one else is around. At Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), said she believes Griswold, who defended birth control rights, was wrongly adjudicated and “unconstitutional.” In the same hearing Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said he felt the Supreme Court had 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 people in red states don’t have access to birth control or same-sex marriage? Sure it does. The same goes for living in a world without Roe, several men assured me for decades before last night.
The Washington Post reported on it just this morning Republicans are expected to push for a national ban on abortion if Roe falls.
Most men (would I say every man?) would rightly cry out if a group of seventy-year-old women had the final say on what they could and couldn’t do with their bodies. For women, these men have been around since the beginning of time. They are constantly monitoring our anatomy and believe we need their firm but guiding hand on when we can have children, when we can’t, how to avoid having children, who to marry, who can even call themselves women. Herschel Walker is one of those men. There are many others, and many more culpable, but this is a sports site and he is the former athlete participating in a forced birth campaign.
We as a nation cannot afford any more men who would try to control women’s bodies. We will not survive what comes after either.