“As a matter of constitutional substance, the majority’s opinion has all the flaws its method would suggest. Because laws in 1868 deprived women of any control over their bodies, the majority approves States doing so today. Because those laws prevented women from charting the course of their own lives, the majority says States can do the same again. Because in 1868, the government could tell a pregnant woman—even in the first days of her pregnancy—that she could do nothing but bear a child, it can once more impose that command. Today’s decision strips women of agency over what even the majority agrees is a contested and contestable moral issue. It forces her to carry out the State’s will, whatever the circumstances and whatever the harm it will wreak on her and her family. In the Fourteenth Amendment’s terms, it takes away her liberty.” —JUSTICE BREYER, JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, and JUSTICE KAGAN, dissenting.
I had a post drafted and almost ready to go. And then I learned of the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturning the 50-year precedent of Roe v. Wade.
I can’t even.
But I must.
I live in Massachusetts. Here, people who can get pregnant are safe from this ruling. I expect to remain safe from Clarence Thomas’s declaration that same-sex marriage will be among the next rights to fall.
But for how long?
My Republican governor, Charlie Baker, has issued an order that we will not comply with any other state’s pursuit of a anyone seeking an abortion or providers of them.
I follow historian Heather Cox Richardson, famous for her Letters from an American that show up in my inbox every morning. Yesterday, she gave a live talk on Facebook (outside her usual schedule) to offer some context. It wasn’t comforting. We’ve been here before, she often says. But this time, the before we’ve been to was the 1850s. Yeah, right before the Civil War. Is that where we’re headed? Maybe not, and she didn’t make that connection. Instead, she pointed out, there are way more of us than of them. We need to work together and take back our democracy. Because if we lose it, it’s a lot harder to come back, she said, than if we keep hold of it.
How do we do that? That’s what will be on my mind in the coming days, weeks, and months. There’s no sitting this one out. They’ve come for people who can get pregnant. I’m past that. But they will come for me and my marriage. (Ironic that Thomas, in his list of “demonstrably erroneous” rulings that need to be overturned, did not include Loving v. Virginia.)
People will die because of this ruling—whether those seeking an abortion or those providing them. Not just from illegal abortions, but also because they may have no access to one even if their life is in danger. Think about that.
We can vote out the Republican bastards behind the laws—and I hope we will—but they’ve been corrupting the system to prevent people from voting or their votes from being counted. They know they can’t win on the merits of their policy positions, so they resort to cheating.
Every time there’s some horrific injustice, leading back to Bush v. Gore, I’m tempted to throw up my hands and give up. That’s it. I’m done with politics. But I don’t. I still vote in every election, even the tiny ones in my small town. Because not voting is admitting they are right and that we’re better off as a theocracy, or autocracy, or dictatorship, or name any other form of “government” that does not treat its citizens as human beings.
Our system may be corrupt to the core, but it’s still better than the alternative. We can come back from this. As Professor Richardson said, in the 1850s southern Democrats, led by enslavers, rigged the system to their benefit since they knew the couldn’t win fairly. When northerners clued in, they worked together, across parties, and the Republican Party formed, bringing us Abraham Lincoln.
Vote, run for office, donate, write, talk, shout, march, take control.
Don’t let the bastards get us down.