Last Monday, people across the United States woke up to the news that the Supreme Court will hear a case to ban abortion at 15 weeks, clearly violating the constitutional right to privacy and abortion established by Roe v. Wade in 1973.
Every single person in this country should feel shivers run down their spines, because this is terrifying.
The newly established block of six conservative Supreme Court justices do not reflect the values of this country. The United States is an overwhelmingly pro-choice nation—over 70 percent of people in this country do not want Roe v. Wade overturned. A vast majority support reproductive freedom and know that people deserve access to the reproductive health care they need.
Yet our reproductive freedom hangs in the balance because of an overly funded, extreme anti-choice minority that is committed to controlling pregnant people’s decisions.
Roe is gone. The chaos is just beginning.
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This minority movement’s sinister strategy has been successful. They have focused on taking over the judicial system (currently more than a quarter of federal judges were appointed by Trump), maintaining control in state houses by any means necessary (particularly using gerrymandering and voter suppression), and achieving the ultimate victory of establishing a radical, extreme anti-choice Supreme Court.
By activating their small base to win elections and maintain patriarchy and control, they have achieved their goal of blocking reproductive freedom as a tactic to gain political power and to reinforce white supremacy, wealth inequality, and misogyny. The goal has never, ever been to “protect life.”
The Supreme Court will likely use the Mississippi case to undo the constitutional protection to abortion, and allow states free rein to control reproductive freedom. Today, ten states sit ready in the wings with “trigger ban laws,” which will automatically outlaw abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Already, 58 percent of the country lives in a state hostile to reproductive freedom, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Over the last 30 years, states have enacted hundreds of medically unnecessary hurdles to access reproductive health care—increasing cost, requiring extensive travel, and confusing patients with inaccurate information. In 2021 alone, 549 abortion restrictions, including 165 abortion bans, have been introduced across 47 states. Of those, 70 restrictions have been enacted across 13 states, including ten bans.
Indeed, abortion may still be legal in the United States, but it is extremely inaccessible now, particularly for low income people. This Supreme Court case will make it even more difficult, and even more dependent on where you live and how much money or access you have. This is by design.
Those of us who believe in reproductive freedom are up against elected officials who believe there should be criminal penalties for people seeking an abortion and for doctors performing an abortion. Just last month in Oklahoma, an abortion ban passed that would charge medical providers with homicide if they perform an abortion in the presence of a “fetal heartbeat.”
We must ask ourselves: Do we want the government standing in the doctor’s office with us when we’re making personal decisions about our future and our families? Do we really want sheriffs’ deputies investigating every miscarriage in this country?
This moment is exactly why #VOTEPROCHOICE exists. If the Supreme Court is going to rob pregnant people of their reproductive freedom, then that freedom must be secured at the ballot box.
State legislatures are where these horrible anti-choice laws are passed. Pro-choice state legislatures must be protected, and anti-choice state legislatures must be transformed. Advocates must identify the anti-choice extremists and replace them all with candidates who support bodily autonomy, like the majority of this country does.
Organizers must work obsessively in every single city, state, and county to elect sheriffs, district attorneys, public defenders, judges, and coroners who are champions for reproductive freedom and will not enforce these horrific, controlling anti-choice laws.
There is no time to waste. The Supreme Court will hear the Mississippi case in the fall and hand down a decision by the end of next June, leaving the full control of our reproductive freedom in the hands of local and state elected officials.
There is so much at stake in this battle. This moment requires reproductive rights and justice advocates to unite, focus, and improve our strategy to shift power to the pro-choice majority.
And that can be done by winning elections.
Success in state and local elections mean the difference between body autonomy or oppressive, state-controlled reproductive health. One of our most foundational freedoms—the right to decide whether, when, or how to build a family—is at stake.