On this Roe anniversary, one might feel down about the direction reproductive rights are headed. Most notably, there is a major case in front of the Supreme Court this Term that will determine whether states can make up crazy laws that target abortion clinics and providers with the goal of shutting them down. It’s pretty depressing that this case even had to go to the Supreme Court because the abortion clinic and providers lost at the lower court level.
I am usually the Debbie Downer in my office, which kind of makes sense given the ridiculous federal attacks on reproductive health that we fight on a daily basis (take your pick: the attempts to: defund Planned Parenthood, overturn a D.C. law that protects women from being fired for their reproductive health decisions, or impose a ban on abortion after 20 weeks). But on Roe day, I am not Debbie Downer about the state of reproductive rights. Nope. On this day, I am absolutely thrilled about its future.
Why the sudden turnaround?
Well, as part of the big abortion Supreme Court case this term, a bunch of women submitted amicus briefs stating for all to hear that they had an abortion. Take, for example, the amicus brief signed by 112 women in the legal profession [PDF] “who have exercised their constitutional right to an abortion.” Boom. This one makes a legal nerd’s heart swoooon. There are partners, law professors, staff attorneys, students, a former state supreme court justice, on and on. It’s awesome.
Then there is a brief from current and former state legislators talking about their abortions [PDF]. These legislators have shared their stories in the context of pushing back against the state restrictions. Fair warning, though, reading this brief may cause you to run for office. These admirable, brave women taking it to the mat is so inspirational, one almost wants to follow in their footsteps.
There is an amazing brief filed by Advocates for Youth that includes a bunch of stories from a broad range of women who have had abortions [PDF]. They use their real names, tell their real stories. No story is the same, but they carry similar themes. And that’s what abortion is. It’s every woman’s own decision, for her own reasons. And when you read these stories, you are in awe. That these women are putting themselves out there because they care so much about other women’s access to abortion. I am humbled by them, their stories, their names.
These stories move me because we have a momentum going here. And I am inspired (if saddened that it had to get to this horrible state of affairs to necessitate these stories) because when you read these women’s names and their stories, you can’t deny how central the right to an abortion is to women’s lives – central to their dignity, to their equality, and to their economic security.
So this Roe Anniversary, let’s think about these women’s stories. Their names. Their lives.
Let these stories be our voice when we say: we ain’t going back.