The Coming Shift on the Supreme Court Likely Marks the Death of Roe v Wade
By Civia Tamarkin, director of Birthright: A War Story.
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Yes, the sky has fallen. Roe v. Wade likely is dead. And all the hand-wringing hysteria, panicked petition-signing, save SCOTUS sit-ins and Hefty bags full of hangers dumped on Maine Sen. Susan Collins’ doorstep are not going to resuscitate it.
Even if, by some miracle, a few conscience-ridden Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee brave the Trump-McConnell vengeance to block Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, there will be another and another and another narrow-minded, religious fundamentalist extremist waiting in the judiciary candidates’ line-up. They are the coveted collectables amassed by conservatives over a decade. Knock one down and another will bounce right up like rows of ducks in a carnival shooting gallery game.
Whether it is Brett Kavanaugh or his judicial body double who gives the last rites, Roe has been gasping on life supports for years. Donald Trump’s reshuffling of the Supreme Court surely will pull the plug. But Roe will have died from neglect, left to wither away by the majority of Americans who cared deeply yet blindly took it for granted.
Everyone bears responsibility:
- Those who believed a woman’s bodily autonomy, rights to privacy, medical decision making and control over whether, when, and how to have a baby were protected.
- Those who believed once a constitutional right was secured it could not be revoked.
- Those who under-estimated the razor-sharp tactical strategy of the anti-abortion movement.
- Those who discounted the Faustian pact between Republicans and opponents of reproductive liberty, who sat by through the Red invasion of state legislatures and Congress, who were too disgruntled a Bernie fan or too turned off by Hillary to vote.
- Those committed advocates of reproductive rights who spent time and money trying to change the culture through story-telling rather than grooming and deploying an aggressive, unified defense force.
Now, suddenly, cries of anger and astonishment reverberate around the country. There should be no surprise. The shots across the bow were loud and clear – from the Hyde Amendment cutting off Medicaid coverage for abortion, to the Supreme Court allowing states to restrict use of their funds, facilities and employees from performing or counseling on abortion, to the Court permitting limits and conditions on abortion as long as they were not an undue burden. But an undue burden was never defined, thus opening the floodgates for a tidal wave of oppressive laws from forced sonograms and waiting periods to court-ordered medical procedures and jail.
Poor women, members of the military, federal and some state employees are all denied funding for abortion. Some states ban all private insurance companies from covering it, others exclude it from health care exchanges. And even women who manage to pay out-of-pocket are hamstrung. Ninety percent of the counties in this country have no abortion clinics and an increasing number of states place restrictions on medicated abortions, requiring the pills to be administered in the presence of a physician with hospital admitting privileges.
Over four decades, Roe has been eviscerated by more than 1,000 cuts. Without access, there are no rights. For most women in this country, Roe exists in name only. So, bemoaning its probable demise is a waste of energy. Instead, that energy must go toward winning the next fight—the November mid-term elections.
It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over
The film team of Birthright: A War Story described the coming train wreck. We told how the anti-abortion movement was training two generations of foot soldiers and we made this film to sound the alarms. Now we are joining all reproductive rights, health care, resistance and grassroots political groups in launching a Call To Action.
As the saying goes, it ain’t over til it’s over. Without Roe, reproductive liberty and abortion access falls back to the individual states. Nearly half the states have laws on the books that immediately will outlaw and criminalize abortion. Forced pregnancy could well become a reality in the United States.
The safety, health and survival of American women depend on overthrowing Republican legislators and officials at every level and electing pro choice governments.
The Rewire News legislative tracker below illustrates, state-by-state, just what the stakes are. They couldn’t be higher.
So, vote and work steadfastly to get out the votes. The lives of American women depend on it.