Why We Must Keep Abortion Safe, Legal, and Accessible

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Gorsuch: Roe v Wade decided 1973 is a precedent of the United States Supreme Court it has been reaffirmed..and all the other factors have to be considered. It is a precedent of the United States Supreme Court it was reaffirmed in Casey in 1992 and several other cases so a good judge will consider as precedent of the United States Supreme Court worthy of treatment as precedent as any other.

Kavanaugh: One of the important things to keep in mind about Roe v Wade is that it’s been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years as you know. Most prominently most importantly in Planned Parenthood v Casey…reaffirmed so Casey now becomes precedent on precedent…

Amy Coney Barrett: I don’t have any agenda to try to overrule Casey, I have an agenda to stick to the rule of law and decide cases as they come.

Susan Collins: (3:00) I do not believe Kavanaugh will overturn Roe v Wade.

Tyler the Creator: So that was a fucking lie.

Gosh, I wonder what I should talk about today? How about the news that Monday night, Politico revealed that they were in possession of a leaked document showing the Supreme Court of the United States has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that secured the right to women’s bodily autonomy.

A quick note here: abortion rights affect everyone, whether they can get pregnant or not, but it especially affects everyone with a functional uterus. That includes people who aren’t women, and there are many women who don’t have functional uteruses. I default to talking about how this affects “women” because this is, at its heart, a movement that seeks to control women, to force them to give birth against their will, and to keep them subservient to men. But do please keep in mind that there are a lot of men who are directly and severely impacted by this as well.

We all knew this was coming, but it’s still a shock – even for me, who has been publicly and vociferously saying that this was the goal for a decade now, even I have to say I’m blown away by how unequivocal and how hateful Samuel Alito’s draft statement is: “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” he wrote. “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled…it is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

A lot of people are spending their time trying to figure out who leaked the statement, but don’t listen to them. It doesn’t matter, and it’s absurd that so many people are clutching their pearls at the fact that the least democratic and least transparent arm of our government is suddenly tipping their hand. As Paul Campos wrote over on Lawyers, Guns & Money about the “most absurd branch of our government,” “The Supreme Court of the United States is among other things a kind of self-appointed super legislature, and the idea that its deliberations and opinions should be treated like the products of the confessional rather than what they are, which is just quasi-legislative bureaucratic haggling but with far more pomposity attached, is yet another thing about our very special system of government that needs to die in a fire.”

As this is just a draft statement, it doesn’t go into effect immediately. As Politico points out, usually these things get edited a bit and sometimes a justice will even change their vote before things go public. But it seems that no matter what, in the next few months women’s bodily autonomy will be set back 50 years, leading to the immediate outlawing of abortion across the South and Midwest. States like California have pledged to protect residents (and, likely, abortion tourists) with acitons like a possible amendment to the state constitution, but if you’ve watched my channel in the past then you know that striking down Roe v. Wade isn’t the end; there’s always more of the wedge to push through. After states controlled by the Religious Right outlaw abortion, their next major step will be a federal abortion ban.

And we know that because, as the Washington Post reported this week, antichoice activists and lawmakers have been talking about it openly, planning their next move after the SCOTUS decision becomes official. The only upside to the inevitable federal abortion ban is that we will finally stop hearing from the “states’ rights” assholes.

Meanwhile, the average American doesn’t want abortion to be outlawed, at the federal or the state level. For the past several decades, polls have remained about the same as what a CBS survey found last week: 70% of Americans think the decision on whether or not to abort should be between a woman and her doctor. Nearly 60% of Americans think abortion should be legal in most or all cases. Only 28% of Americans thought Roe should be overturned.

Because when you really distill this stuff to its essence, most Americans believe in personal bodily autonomy. Since this country’s founding, we’ve crowed about “freedom,” believing that your personal liberty shouldn’t be curtailed even if it means some people–real, living breathing people–would die because of your choice. For instance, if a person dies in a car wreck, doctors can’t give their organs to a patient in the next bed who is dying from incurable liver disease unless the now-corpse agreed to it before dying. The corpse has no need for the liver, I assure you: there is literally no downside to taking it and giving it to someone who will die without it. But we decided, as a nation, that the corpse’s bodily autonomy is worth more than that other person’s life. This is very stupid, for the record. And what it means in light of this Supreme Court decision is that a dead body has more of a right to their body than the average American woman.

And the average American gets that. The average American wants a woman to be able to say “No, actually, I don’t want this clump of cells to take over my body and put me at risk of life-threatening conditions.”

As always whenever I talk about abortion, I also need to point out that even the minority of Americans who DO want it outlawed are either lying or mistaken when they say that they want to stop abortions from happening. The preponderance of evidence shows us that when a nation or state makes abortion more difficult to access, the number of abortions do not decrease, and in fact, some countries that have banned abortion actually increased the number of abortions compared to countries with fewer restrictions. Women will continue to seek out abortions but if they can’t get them safely and legally, they get more desparate and are more likely to get unsafe procedures, which increases the number of dead women. In fact, you can even see that in the US after Roe v. Wade: the number of abortions went down along with the number of women dying from unsafe abortions. This ruling will reverse that trend.

The ramifications of this SCOTUS ruling don’t stop at the loss of bodily autonomy and access to healthcare, though: Alito’s main argument is that Roe v. Wade is trash because “abortion” isn’t listed in the constitution as a right. Here are some other things that aren’t in there: contraception, interracial marriage, and same-sex marriage, which apparently is next on the chopping block in Texas. So that’s a fun thing to look forward to.

There are ways to stop this all from happening of course: President Biden and the Congressional Democrats could kill the filibuster which would enable them to pass a bill expanding the Supreme Court, though as I’ve already mentioned a lot of experts already seem to think of the Supreme Court as a fundamentally shitty idea that needs a complete overhaul. Like, seriously, we should really consider Nerfing them in Democracy 2.0.

Another option is for Congress to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act that would codify the right to abortion. It failed earlier this year because…oh, yeah, because of the filibuster thing. So again, that needs to go first.

I know it’s frustrating because all of this is in the hands of assholes who none of us really wanted representing us, anyway. The conservative Supreme Court justices were mostly nominated by Republican presidents who lost the popular vote. The Congress critters who are failing to stand up for women won their seats through gerrymandering that invalidates progressive votes. They’re beholden not to the voter but to the wealthy and powerful Religious Right, plus a few industries like pharmaceutical and oil and gas. The whole thing is frustrating, which is why I pop a blood vessel every time I see someone tell me the solution to all this is to vote.

Voting IS one solution, especially in all those elections that most Americans don’t seem to think matter, like the midterms and the state and local elections. But it’s also important to burn shit down. I mean, not literally! Not literally, YouTube ad monetization policy! But we have to agitate for our representatives to do the right thing. We need real systemic change, and we need to fix our broken political system to actually turn it into a democracy that runs on the will of the people while still protecting marginalized minorities.

In the meanwhile, please consider supporting your local abortion fund – these are groups that help bridge the gap for people who need abortions but don’t know where to turn, or who don’t have the money or transportation or childcare to get help. You can also help organizations like Plan C, which might be what we need to decouple maternal mortality from abortion restrictions. You see, abortion care has come so far in the past few decades that now it’s possible to get an abortion at home by taking pills that are safer than aspirin. Plan C is working to make these pills available over-the-counter, allowing women to get abortions safely and easily without needing to travel to a clinic for overnight care. Just the Pill is another great organization helping women get abortion pills delivered to them after a telehealth appointment with a doctor.

The five conservatives on the Supreme Court may have tried to send us back to 1972, but the fact of the matter is that they can’t, because to do that they’d have to get rid of the internet and 50 years of medical advances. Democracy might be dying, but the feminist movement isn’t.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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