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Reversing Roe v Wade Will Be Deadly

know your facts May 04, 2022
protesters march with a sign that reads safe + legal abortions = pro-life!

On Monday, Politico revealed that they had received a leaked document that outlined the Supreme Court’s majority opinion on the anticipated case that could overturn the 1973 ruling on Roe v. Wade, which upheld a woman’s right to bodily autonomy and abortion. While the vote is provisional and justices can change their mind before the official vote, this document confirms what many of us feared in 2016, that the Federalist Society would use a Republican president to stack the court to overturn abortion rights.

We already know what a post-Roe v Wade nation will look like. (If you only read one link, make it this one.) We have the data.

  • Domestic violence and preterm births increase when abortion is denied
  • One study that tracked 1,000 women who sought abortions at 30 facilities in the U.S. from 2008 to 2010 and followed them for up to 5 years. It found that those unable to get an abortion suffered immediate and long-term serious health consequences.
  • Not receiving an abortion is a serious economic risk. Of the 1,000 in the study, 78% of those who couldn’t get an abortion had in increase in overdue unpaid debt and an 81% increase in evictions, bankruptcies, and tax liens.
  • Most abortions (43%) happen in the first 6 weeks of pregnancy and 80% happen in the first 10 weeks.
  • Another study showed that those denied abortions are more likely to have anxiety, experience near-term pregnancy complications (including death), and to stay in violent relationships. The risk of complications is especially troubling for Black women who are already experience a maternal mortality rate THREE TIMES HIGHER than white women, and that number is on the rise.
  • A 2005-2015 study of the correlation between restrictive abortion policies and negative birth outcomes found that risk of the worst outcomes was higher for Black people.

We’ve watched this slow-motion disaster in real time, and poor and non-white women are going to pay a real and tangible price for our failure to take power from a minority of old white men and give it to the people they are supposed to represent.

This didn’t happen overnight. The Federalist Society and other ultraconservative groups with the support of families like the Koch brothers have been working behind the scenes at the local and state levels so they could get young, like-minded justices positioned to lifetime appointments. By the time the major events at the federal level were covered in the news, the foundation had been set and we were all playing catch up.

After the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, a Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee refused to conduct hearings on nomination of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court:

  • President Obama submitted the nomination in March of 2016.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) led the Senate to hold the seat open with the false argument that the election was so close, the people should decide. (He wanted a Republican president to choose who would receive the lifetime appointment.)
  • When Donald Trump was elected, he nominated Neil Gorsuch on January 31, just 11 days after taking office, and the Republican-led Senate quickly approved him.

On July 31, 2018 Justice Anthony Kennedy retired from the Supreme Court. His retirement was clouded with scandal because:

  • It came as a surprise to most people because he had already appointed his clerks for the term.
  • Although he was conservative, he sometimes sided with liberal justices on issues like same sex marriage, abortion rights, and affirmative action.
  • Kennedy’s son Justin oversaw and approved some of Trump’s loans through Deutsche Bank, the one bank that was still lending money to the Trump family and the same bank that was fined for participating in a Russian money laundering scheme in 2017. (I don’t know if any of that is connected or if it’s all just coincidence, but it looks shady and feeds conspiracy theories.)
  • After claiming the people should decide and holding Alito’s empty Supreme Court seat open from March 2016 to January 2017, Republicans refused to wait 3 months for mid-term elections in November 2018 before pushing through Kennedy’s replacement, Brett Kavanaugh.

Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court after a highly contentious hearing process:

  • He was credibly accused of rape by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and other women and the Republican-led Senate willfully refused to investigate. (She was harassed, ostracized from her community, and suffered the consequences of coming forward, but that’s a different story on how men and women treat women who stand against the patriarchy.)
  • Questions still remain about who paid off his large debts, although it seems like his rich parents have been footing his bills and he doesn’t want to admit it.
  • The gross display of privilege. Crying and verbally attacking the people doing the questioning wasn’t an option for Ketanji Brown Jackson, even though the statements and questions put to her often had nothing to do with her personally or the job of being a supreme court justice. Having a meltdown like his in any other interview for any position would eliminate you from consideration. Interviewees for a part-time, minimum wage job couldn’t act out like that and expect to still be hired, but Kavanaugh got a lifetime appointment to make decisions for the rest of the country.

After the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg on September 18, 2020, the Republican Senate, once again, refused to follow their own rules about letting the people decide.

  • They confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court about one week before Election Day.
  • Amy Coney Barrett is the least experienced justice in decades. She has almost no experience practicing law at all. Before 2017, she had never served as a judge. She was never a prosecutor or defense lawyer, never an attorney general or counsel to any legislative body. She hasn’t tried a case to verdict, argued an appeal, or even done pro bono work, despite the American Bar Association’s code of professional responsibility recommending that lawyers provide 50 hours of free legal services per year to low-income people.
  • Barrett is a member of the Federalist Society, which has an outsized influence on who is in power in our court system

Installing these three justices in place of the previous justices tilts the court from one of balance to the right. With 6 conservative justices The GOP now has the power to decide our rights based on their pseudo-religion, despite the Constitution’s demand for separation of church and state. And the main order of business has been to overturn Roe v. Wade. If they can deny a woman bodily autonomy and force women to give birth, then we lose the ability to decide for our own health, economics, relationship status, and more.

This is not about unborn children. This is about power. If it was about children, the GOP would be pushing for pre-natal care, maternity and paternity leave, increasing safety nets and resources once children are born.

Instead of forcing women to give birth, they’d focus on prevention and put the responsibility on both men and women. Instead, men in power want to have sex and pretend that women get pregnant by themselves.

Wealthy and powerful people know they'll still have safe access if they need it. Poor people and desperate people will suffer with unsafe at-home methods or deal with the emotional, economic, and sometimes life-threatening impact.

Despite what the GOP's pseudo-religion would have you believe, sex is not a sin. It's not (and shouldn't be) against the law. It's not punishable by death. All pregnancies are not preventable. Contraception is not 100%. It fails. All pregnancies are not viable. And it's nobody's business why a woman chooses to get an abortion. It's her body.

What I never hear folks in power who want every fertilized egg to create a life talk about is how if men kept their sperm to themselves, all pregnancies would be prevented. Easier then punishing women after the fact, make men stop spreading their sperm up front and there wouldn't be any pregnancy at all!

As angry as I am about this provisional vote, I’m also anxious about what else will come. Once the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and there are no consequences, the GOP will likely move to reverse access to contraception and overturn same sex marriage. Just a few weeks ago, Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) talked about reversing Loving v Virginia, the decision that legalized interracial marriage.

In the face of growing diversity, the old, white, male powers that be are determined to try to return to the 1950s, or maybe the 1850s. We can’t go back. Time doesn’t work that way. But it hurts my heart to think of how many people will be damaged and destroyed while we fight for the future.

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