by Laura LeMoon
On May 3, a SCOTUS draft opinion was leaked to POLITICO in which the state of Mississippi is challenging the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case and bringing it before the Supreme Court. Roe v. Wade wasn’t a law guaranteeing abortion rights, but rather a huge legal precedent that established that the right to abortion was part of the U.S. Constitution’s guaranteed right to privacy. The 1973 Supreme Court decision caused a domino effect of abortion access changes across the country as a new argument for abortion choice was now institutionally recognized as valid.
Half a century later, the Supreme Court is about to flip that precedent on its head and instead argue the Constitution doesn’t even guarantee a right to privacy, which could leak into many other issues as well. Here is a comprehensive guide to getting through the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade.
What to do NOW:
- Panic … but only give yourself a finite amount of time to panic. It’s normal and, I would argue, expected if you feel a sense of impending doom in anticipation of this SCOTUS decision. So be upset — go ahead. It’s definitely warranted. But give yourself a cutoff, like one day, or one week. Whatever feels most sensible and most compassionate to yourself. Then, we must put our panic and dismay on the back burner so with clear heads we can proceed to the next steps.
- Plan the revolution. We can’t afford to wait until the overturn happens. Revolution begins when a lot of people do a lot of little things together. All you need to start is one small step. For some ideas, you could check in on your friends, especially people with uteruses, or you could attend a rally or protest, write a poem and read it at a café, make art, make love. There’s lots to do that is revolutionary, even if you’re the only person doing it.
- Try to join a movement larger than yourself. The most important thing while joining or creating revolution is to break things down into action steps. For this, I recommend coming up with SMART Goals for the revolution. SMART Goals are those which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Once you create an action plan for yourself, you can then have more of a sense of direction and purpose within the fight for abortion rights.
- Educate yourself on the issue of abortion access in the U.S. as well as the world. The history of abortion law in the U.S. is long and extremely complex, but it directly affects every person with a uterus and every person who knows or loves someone with a uterus. It’s no doubt an exhaustive and complicated issue, but just like starting small with your goals for the revolution, you can start small with becoming more aware about the stakes. Read one book. Read one article. Then, if you can manage it, read another article. Read one a day, or one per week. A fantastic book on abortion is Leslie J. Reagan’s When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973. Try to get the recently updated edition that came out in February 2022. If you’re looking for something that focuses more on Roe v. Wade, I suggest Abortion and the Law in America: Roe v. Wade to the Present by Mary Ziegler.
- Vote. Support candidates, help campaigns, do your homework, and vote only for candidates who support bodily autonomy.
Important and little-known facts about abortion rights we all need to keep in mind while fighting for abortion rights:
- The Hyde Amendment is genocide against low-income and BIPOC people. This amendment, which stands to this day as a part of the annual appropriations bill, entirely and wholly prevents Medicaid reimbursement for abortion using federal funds. Not only does this law make it impossible for people on Medicaid to get an abortion covered, but it makes it impossible for people covered by Indian Health Services, TRICARE, Medicare, federal prisons, Peace Corps, and those who are federal employees to get an abortion covered. It is of critical importance that BIPOC people are centered in all discussions and activities related to reproductive access.
- White people, specifically, need to remember that there is a long history of colonialist and racist conduct within the American medical system toward BIPOC people. Not every person, and especially not every person with a uterus, is going to feel comfortable entrusting the white supremacist hetero-patriarchal medical system with abortion care, and a long and horrible history of forced sterilization upon Black, Latino, and Native people must be understood as to how it influences how people feel in the mainstream white-centered abortion rights movement. Cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied white people especially must hold this nuance of abortion and withhold judgment against those who are hesitant and have been historically and systematically targeted, and whose right to have children has been as accosted as their right to not have children.
- Recognize that voting, while important, is a complex issue with an even more complex history of racial and gender injustice. Many young people — Generation Z and millennials — are also skeptical of voting, especially compared with boomers. Hold space for feelings of mistrust and ambivalence toward government and the efficacy of the vote.
Revolution is an overwhelming thought, and Americans especially have been conditioned to believe that one person can’t make an impact; that we just have to quietly accept our collective fates. It is possible that SCOTUS will not vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, but it is far more likely that they will. Everyone needs to be prepared. Everyone can do something, even if it’s just a small step forward. And all the steps forward matter, because our nation is about to take a huge one backward.
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Laura LeMoon is a Queer sex worker and writer/author based in Tacoma, WA. She is the author of two poetry books and has served as consultant to the CDC, USDOJ, and UNODC on issues related to sex work and HIV.
📸 Featured image by Alex Garland.
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