The Roe V. Wade Challenge is Coming to SCOTUS – Is the Country Ready to Fight for Women’s Rights?

The Roe V. Wade Challenge is Coming to SCOTUS – Is the Country Ready to Fight for Women’s Rights?

When I was in grade school during the early 1980s, America hadn’t yet “progressed” to active shooter drills. In the inner city of Chicago, we were still living out the final days of the 20th Century Red Scare. Though children were periodically marched to the basement for instruction on how to get low and cover their heads, there was no immediacy to the exercise. Ronald Reagan was President, and “The Russians are coming!” was little more than a recess taunt. In retrospect, it was a simpler and more innocent time. My playmates and I were not worried about becoming a 21st Century statistic – the one in which almost 3,000 American kids and teens are killed each year by domestic gun violence.

We Generation X kids were also blissfully naïve in other areas of civic life. For example, we took this passage from How the Supreme Court Makes Decisions on faith:

“For a final ruling, at least five of the nine justices must agree. One or more of those justices is asked to write the ‘majority opinion.’ Justices who disagree may write a ‘minority opinion.’ All opinions are released. But the majority opinion is the final ruling.”

And then that’s it and society moves on, right? Sometimes we get stuck with the lasting, unpleasant consequences of Bush v. Gore (2000) or Citizens United v. FEC (2010), but the egregiously racist Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) was eventually overturned. Our United States Supreme Court is imperfect, because comprised of humans, but the sacred body’s arc of justice has historically bent us in the right direction. This was and is a paradigm that must be taken for granted in order to keep secular hell from breaking loose.

Though perhaps the scales should have fallen from our eyes much sooner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s 2016 stonewalling of Obama nominee Judge Merrick Garland was a game changer. The naked partisan unwillingness to support a sitting, democratically elected President’s fill of the SCOTUS seat left vacant by Antonin Scalia’s death, established that, per Politico’s David Greenberg:

“It’s pure politics now, and no one pretends otherwise.

Today’s partisanship culminates an astonishing transformation. It’s hard to recall now, but for most of the past century almost nobody would admit to voting for or against a nominee because of his or her partisan affiliation. In fact, although opposing judicial nominees was not uncommon in the 19th Century, between 1894 and 1968, the Senate rejected just one presidential nomination to the high court. Deference to presidential prerogative prevailed.”

The eight states that have passed abortion restrictions this year that could challenge the constitutional rights established by the Supreme Court in 1973 are no coincidence. In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s 2016 election to the U.S. Presidency, the stacking of SCOTUS with Justices Neil “Ideological Litmus Test” Gorsuch, and Brett “Sexual Assault” Kavanaugh is one of Trump’s few delivered campaign promises.

This is no Handmaiden’s drill. The right, having made excellent progress in shoving the nation’s wealth upward, leading us into pointless and costly wars, and disenfranchising as many brown people as possible, is coming for the white, male, patriarchal Holy Grail – Roe v. Wade. It’s a good thing the greater electorate didn’t give into Hillary Clinton’s “blackmail” about the judicial consequences of elections, right Bernie Bros and Broettes? That evil woman has been wrong about…nothing (sob – “#ImWithHer).

So what do we do now, if like me, you believe wholeheartedly that only a woman should make the ultimate decisions about her own body, but accept that the standoff that’s been brewing for over 40 years is actually coming? The New York Times quotes Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights, as saying:

“The appointment of Kavanaugh focused legislators across the country on abortion…It focused conservative legislators to pass abortion restrictions that they hope will be challenged and end up before the court, so the court can undermine or overturn abortion rights.”

Will those of us who oppose this step backward in public health, individual liberty and equal economic opportunity focus as resolutely? As resolutely as those who actually dehumanize the living? A number of abortion ban protests and rallies are popping up in states and cities across the country. We need to show up for those en masse.

We need to vote, run for office and campaign for those who believe that women are actual people, not incubators for the impoverished, controllable proletariat. The time is now, and we owe not only to our daughters, but to the mothers, grandmothers and aunts who fought for the truth of our personhood established in 1973. A truth that is under massive, sustained assault.

Ladies and Male/Other Gendered Allies: it’s time for secular hell to break loose.

Becky Sarwate

Becky is an award-winning journalist, Op-Ed columnist and blogger. On March 29, 2018 her first book, Cubsessions: Famous Fans of Chicago’s North Side Baseball Team, will be published by Eckhartz Press. She is a proud Chicago resident, where Becky lives with her husband Bob. Check out her collected work at BeckySarwate.com, and follow her on Twitter @BeckySarwate.