Roe V Wade
“The rearview mirror is smaller than the windshield for a reason.” — Christine Merser
OK, let’s just get this part said so we can move on. Yes, it’s outrageous that every single one of our Supreme Court justices 'lied' under oath about what they would do about Roe v. Wade. Yes, Alito’s writing and “thinking” (I really can’t call it that) has holes in it the size of the largest craters in Hawaii. Yes, she is close to judicially illiterate (yes, I’m referring to Coney Barrett), and yes, all those (including me) who were terrified in 2016 turned out to be right. All these things are true. But they don’t matter. And it doesn’t matter who leaked the draft decision. My guess, judging from the pent up vitriol Alito uses in his rhetoric, I think it was him - worried that it was going to be toned down and not wanting it to be. And, timing isn’t always everything. And, now these few months later; it’s done. But I think it’s time to stop talking about it all in terms of what has happened, and time to move toward what can be done about it.
I have renewed energy. They can end democracy, and I believe that will happen in November. I do. Sue me. But they cannot make me live in the autocratic regimes we have seen across the globe without agency. We are not like those countries. I will always have agency and it’s time to learn how to use it so when these white men over fifty who want all the power in their hands and all the money in the hands of themselves and their friends, don’t get away with totally silencing me. And you. And our friends.
So, here is my take on just the RVW part of it looking forward: We are not living in the 1950s and 1960s, when secrecy was key to getting what you needed to end an unwanted pregnancy. It will not be the same as it was then. We are way too powerful, and already, corporations are offering to fly employees where they need to go to do what they need to do. And there will be thousands — thousands, I tell you — of online resources for those who need them — resources for people to gain safe passage to where they will have the freedom to choose whether or not to have a child. And yes, I know that the bulk of abortions today are from financially and culturally disadvantaged individuals (usually between 70 and 90%), including women of color, underage rape victims, and illegal immigrants. I get that. But we can still provide what is needed to get them help. There are roads to travel to right this wrong. They don’t need to mirror the technique of my hero, June Osborne, in The Handmaid’s Tale, although the fantasy of chasing Alito, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Coney Barrett, and Thomas through the woods along with a sea of women throwing rocks works for me when I’m lying enraged in my bed at night. And OK, let’s include Collins, McConnell, and a few others as well.
But looking backward even one single day is a waste of time.
Here is what is not a waste of time: Putting together plans for each and every state in which work needs to be done to put a plan together to vote out of office people who want to tell women what to do with their bodies. Every single state. Putting together groups in every single state to help women get abortions if they decide that is the best route for them. Looking for ways to localize abortion options. How about establishing women’s centers on the reservations that can’t be reached by the U.S. government of white men over fifty who want to make us have children who they will not support after birth. Or employing buses to travel daily to get women where they need to go. Or electing women candidates to overturn whatever crazy legislation is out there. Tell the stories you know that will help people understand the seriousness of this situation. Here is one from me: One summer, while I was a student at the University of Nebraska, I went to the Adirondacks to work at a place right out of Dirty Dancing. One day, I got a call from a sorority sister who was pregnant. She needed to come to New York, where she could get an abortion. I picked her up and took her to the hospital, where she had to endure the procedure alone because I couldn’t get off my shift to be there with her. She was all by herself. It had been her first time on a plane, and now she was alone in a hospital at which she would have to wait hours for me to pick her up after my shift was over. What should have been a sad, upsetting few hours turned into a few days of desperation and loneliness and financial burden that did not serve her well in the long term.
The internet and smartphones mean we cannot — and will not — be brought back to the past of the 1950s and 1960s. In 2019, I interviewed Thomas Kerenyi, who was one of the first doctors to perform abortions in New York City. He sat on the Mount Sinai committee (all men) that determined whether or not a woman who’d applied to get an abortion because of extenuating circumstances would receive one. We were planning to complete a series of interviews for my podcast, but Thomas passed away before we finished it. Here is the first interview, in which he describes the days before the legalization of abortion in New York. Don’t miss it.
So, action is called for here. We should not waste time complaining or feeding the fires that are already raging over our lying Supreme Court justices who have tarnished forever the esteem in which we long held the court. And, get ready because we are going to have a lot of things to fight for in the coming months and years. The time for the passive living of our own lives with the rules being made by those we trust are over.
And, while I’m on a roll. Please stop with the pink hats (seriously?) and marching. You might not have noticed, but they don’t work and you are better off spending your time organizing actions to support what you want to happen rather than yelling about what you didn’t want to happen - but did.