Women are fighting for rights we thought we already fought for
Below are stories from individuals of every generation on the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade. The decision to strip a woman of autonomy over her own body. One that isn’t what they say, a decision that doesn’t simply impact a “certain kind of woman”. A decision that impacts every woman. Every young girl. Every child.
When the Supreme Court collectively lit their oppressive torches and brought out their dictatorial pitchforks by way of deeming a woman incapable of making decisions for herself, freedoms for every woman and young girl halted. Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose is a right that was fought—and won—decades ago, and now in the year 2022, that very protective right is actively under attack by a democracy that no longer represents the very freedoms it once claimed to honor.
As a Gen X woman from New York City, I was devastated to hear the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v. Wade. Devastated.
My reasons are layered, but directly derive from the 2016 election. Six years ago, I created a video for Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party entitled SCOTUS9. The video addressed the danger to many of the liberties we take for granted, including Roe v. Wade. When passed, this ruling provided a fundamental “right to privacy,” which in turn, protected a woman’s right to an abortion. My concern was that the next president would have the power to appoint a new Supreme Court Justice, and if that president was not the Democratic candidate, then they would tip an equally divided court to the right with dangerous repercussions.
My fears were realized, and while I interviewed the individuals below prior to the recent 2022 Mid-term elections, the results spoke louder than ever. Abortion rights matter.
- Almost 3 million women in the U.S. experienced RRP during their lifetime.
- The prevalence of RRP was similar across racial and ethnic groups (i.e., Hispanic, White non-Hispanic, Black non-Hispanic, and other non-Hispanic).
- About 18 million women have experienced vaginal rape in their lifetime. Women who were raped by a current or former intimate partner were more likely to report RRP (26%) compared to those raped by an acquaintance (5.2%) or a stranger (6.9%).
- Of women who were raped by an intimate partner, 30% experienced a form of reproductive coercion by the same partner. Specifically, about 20% reported that their partner had tried to get them pregnant when they did not want to or tried to stop them from using birth control. About 23% reported their partner refused to use a condom.
- Women raped by an intimate partner who reported RRP were significantly more likely to have experienced reproductive coercion compared to women who were raped by an intimate partner but did not become pregnant.
In the 2016 election, I was sure that people would want to protect the democratic ideals that previous courts had established. I was hopeful that many of the long-standing prejudices facing women in public life would be trumped (poor choice of words) by the need to protect the balance of power on the Supreme Court. And I believed that the United States would elect its first female president. I was wrong. Three Supreme Court appointments later, the Trump Administration successfully packed the Court, and women today are paying the very real-life costs of that election and the subsequent reversal of Roe v. Wade.
As I have processed what this new ruling now means to me and women everywhere, I have wondered how friends across the country, friends of a variety of ages, backgrounds and ethnicities felt upon hearing the decision. Did allies feel as impacted as we women do? Did different generations have different points of view? Here is a sampling of responses to the question so many of us have been asking ourselves since the ruling in June:
How do you feel about the Roe reversal and why?
GEN X | Sonni, Physician
New York, New York,
I am angry and at times despondent. I knew this was coming because of the SCOTUS make up so I wasn’t surprised, but I’m still shocked that this is our reality. My anger is not just at the Republicans who fought to overturn Roe, but also at people who agree with me politically but did not vote. As the red states implement abortion bans, I am also horrified at how extremist many of these laws are. I am also scared because we already have a high maternal mortality rate and especially for Black women compared to peer nations – and many more young people are going to die.
I don’t believe that a fetus is a human being whose right to exist should have priority over an actual person. I don’t understand why someone’s religious views are being forced on those of us who don’t have that view. As a physician, I am horrified doctors are being forced to practice medicine that is not consistent with the oath we took and contrary to our duty to take care of our patient: the pregnant person.
In response, I am registering voters this weekend, and I am trying to do at least one election-related volunteer event a week and even more as we get closer to the midterms. I have and will continue to participate in every direct action so that people know that we are mad and will fight for our rights.
GEN X | Tom, Broadway Producer
New York, NY
Like any decent human, I am disgusted and humiliated by the recent reversal of Roe v. Wade. I am disgusted that an illegitimate “president” appointed three unqualified people to SCOTUS who then used their personal beliefs and not the law to overturn a landmark decision that has saved countless lives over the past 5 decades and I am humiliated to live in a country that treats women (and all marginalized communities) as second-class citizens.
I am a cisgender male; I do not have a uterus. I’m here to listen to, stand behind and fight for the women of this country. On a personal note as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, women have stood by me and my community in countless ways. I wouldn’t be here without the support of women, and I, for one, intend on being supporting women and a woman’s right to choice until I take my last breath.
MILLENIAL | Emily, Learning + Development
How do five people choose how the rest of the country lives when more than 60% are pro-choice?! Women should have equal rights as men. It is 2022, I believe we should not be going off a constitution, which – written by white men who enslaved black HUMAN BEINGS and thought women did not deserve some of the most basic rights. Other countries are laughing at us… America the land of free? Nope, land of the free – for white men.
If all men had to get vasectomies (that are completely reversible) before marriage, just IMAGINE the outrage; the hypocrisy is just sad. If this was truly a concern about the welfare of unborn children, then we’d deal with all the homelessness and trafficking that actual living children face today worldwide. This is clearly about control over women, period, and I will fight this ruling. I will protest, sign petitions, teach the younger generation how to be a decent human being. Things have to crumble before we finally band together, and I know we will prevail.
GEN Y | Elaine, Video Producer
I feel very disappointed by the overturning of Roe. I am disappointed in all of the men in political offices who think they even have a right to an opinion on this matter. I am disappointed in the country for having such a screwed up system that people we didn’t even vote for are making such important decisions in our lives. I am disappointed in 24-hour news companies who have turned our politics into entertainment that give them opportunities to sell ad space into. I am disappointed we are going backwards and that 50% of this country is okay with this.
I’m fearful about what the Court will rule on next. I’ve read many articles about how this may the beginning of the unwinding of all progression — including gay marriage. I am Latina, queer and a woman. I now feel like two parts of me are less than, and I am about to lose the third. I already have felt unwanted in the country by growing up in Arizona during SB1070, I feel like I have, as a woman I have less rights than men, and now, I am fearful I may not be able to marry the person I love.
GEN Z | Keara, Communications Assistant
Santa Clarita, CA
I feel upset, betrayed and ignored with the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. I feel as if the government and this nation as a whole have failed me and women around the country. It was the wrong decision, in so many ways. This decision has taken rights away from me, as well as every other person in the country – who can get pregnant – their very autonomy to make one’s own reproductive healthcare decisions, a right recognized for nearly 50 years.
We are already seeing news stories about abortion horror stories in the news now that Roe has been overturned, including a 10-year-old rape victim who was forced to travel from Ohio to Indiana for abortion. This is not what the majority of people living in this country want, and meanwhile, 5 Supreme Court Justices make this monumental decision that does not reflect American values. This decision is going to hurt so many women in this country and change the trajectory of our lives forever. I would sign petitions and vote but in all honesty, at this point, I feel like I have no say or power in the matter. It seems our rights were stripped away from us so easily that I feel hopeless.
GEN Z | Eliana, College Student
This decision did not take into account the feelings that the majority of the country has about abortion and one’s right to choose to continue a pregnancy or not. I feel scared and upset and mad and angry and betrayed. I feel like this is only going to get worse before it gets better. It hurts me to know that the people in my life now and going forward will have more limited opportunities to make decisions about what they can do with their own body because of some illegitimate jurors who don’t deserve to be on the Supreme Court making decisions about people’s health.
I am currently working with the National Council of Jewish Women in Washington, D.C. on their outstanding abortion access campaign. I have been so lucky to be surrounded by leaders in the Jewish and non-Jewish community that care so deeply about fighting this atrocious and harmful decision. I have been at the Supreme Court more times than I can count on one hand this year alone, protesting for a person’s right to choose. I’m studying public health in college and want to use that knowledge in the future to remedy some of the terrible outcomes that will inevitably happen because of this decision.
BOOMER | Carol, Special Education Teacher
So many emotions were involved in hearing the decision… concern was probably the most prevalent. I feel concern for the many women who will access backroom abortions, those who will die because they are carrying an at-risk pregnancy, or the fetus has died and their bodies cannot spontaneously abort. Concern for the young girls barely able to get pregnant who are raped being forced to carry the pedophile’s child to term. Their bodies are not ready for pregnancy. There are so many concerns.
I had a spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) years ago. The pain of losing the baby was horrible. I cannot imagine what my niece and two friends felt when their babies died in utero within a month of their due dates. Labor was induced, so they would not have to carry the babies until their bodies spontaneously went into labor. The emotions, danger of sepsis, etc. conjures up so many things about how they would have felt in the time it took them to go into labor on their own, knowing their baby was gone. Just horrific, yet the Court has not considered those things.
BOOMER | Nancy, Associate Senior Counsel
Delray Beach, FL
I am physically sick, psychologically distressed and generally in a deep funk since Roe v. Wade was overturned. Quite simply, nobody has the right to tell me what to do with my body. I am autonomous. I make my own decisions about everything involving my well-being. Reproduction is an intimate decision involving my life and body, which only I am entitled to make. It is part of my healthcare. Someone much wiser than I am once said: “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”
It’s inherently unfair, unjust, unequal, prejudicial, discriminatory, bigoted, misogynistic, anti-woman, anti-female and both a violation of my right to privacy and a violation of the US Constitution’s First Amendment Establishment Clause (aka separation of church and state). I want codification of Roe v. Wade in a bipartisan act that converts into law the right for any person to make their own healthcare decisions under a preemption argument… In order to better achieve health equity and social justice in American society, attention must be paid to courts and their role in the process of effectuating health equity and individual privacy through law.
For more information on continuing to fight for abortion rights on a state level, reach out to your local senators, Planned Parenthood, and Women’s Rights organizations … and persist.
This article by Lauren Flick in Sheville Magazine is published here as part of the global journalism collaboration with Rise Together Media.