When news broke today that the Supreme Court had overturned the settled law of Roe v. Wade which granted women the legal right to an abortion in America, you could almost hear the collective audible gasp from American women. It should have come as no surprise that the SCOTUS would overturn Roe, but there remained a modicum of hope that perhaps the leaked opinion would prove untrue. It wasn’t.
We’re now careening downhill on a greased and dangerously slippery slope toward potential reversal of other settled laws. Roe is just the start.
And while Margaret Atwood once wrote that she considered her best seller “The Handmaid’s Tale” to be too “far-fetched” to complete, we are beginning to see glimpses of what the patriarchal, totalitarian, white supremacist American society envisioned by the rightwing would look like.
The calculated move for decades by the Republican party to gain political control of virtually every branch of the government all but assures that the very personal liberties the party claims to support (for example, agency over one’s body), can and will be snatched away at its bidding. It’s no accident that all six of the justices who voted to overturn Roe were appointed by Republican presidents.
After all, it was the party’s calculated political plan all along to gerrymander electoral maps to win elections in an audacious political heist. Big money donors poured hundreds of millions of dollars toward the effort so that victory would be assured in most cases. The goal was and always has been stealthily wrangling control of the legislative, executive, and judicial branch by any means necessary to force a political agenda that pushes the rights of women, people of color, and LGBTQIA populations to the periphery while centering those rights of their stalwart base: white men.
The legal argument for this reversal of Roe is because the Constitution doesn’t mention reproductive rights for women. The Constitution indeed does not mention women’s reproductive rights and women aren’t mentioned at all in the original document. It would be 143 years later with the passage of the19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, before women were addressed at all. In 1787, women were an afterthought with no political rights and often, no decision-making authority, particularly over their property and their bodies, without the consent of their husbands or fathers.
Predictable and Planned Outcomes
With this ruling, 26 U.S. states are now poised to ban abortion altogether. In those states, women will increasingly be subjected to unsafe, illicit, and dangerous back-alley abortions that were common prior to Roe. Ultimately, even those women who are forced to proceed with an unplanned pregnancy will suffer, and so will their children, as they are much more likely to be reared in poverty.
Anti-abortion efforts in America are aimed at increasing the white birth rate. It’s not a religious calling for many white Republicans. It’s an imperative to increase the white birth rate even as the country is becoming browner. It’s forcing white women to have babies that they didn’t plan for and may not want.
The Slipperiest of Slopes
Today, 61 percent of Americans say abortion should be legal in most, if not all cases, while 37 percent believe it should be illegal in most or all cases, according new data from the Pew Research Center. It’s good to know that most Americans believe that women should have agency over what happens to their bodies, but troubling that nearly 4 in 10 Americans believe they should not.
More troubling is the fact that settled law can be overturned by activists judges at the drop of a hat. I’m fearful of what could be next: voting rights for minorities – overturned? Gay marriage -- overturned? It’s all up for reversal.
And if you think that’s hyperbolic, you should watch the Handmaid’s Tale because life is imitating art right now in America.