Pregnancy and Abortion Access Déjà Vu
Almost two years ago, in the last trimester of my first pregnancy, I sat down to write a blog about Brett Kavanaugh, who, at the time, was a nominee to the Supreme Court. His nomination and confirmation hearings, particularly what his judgeship and a more conservative Court would mean for women and girls, hit me hard as a pregnant person expecting my first child. I was filled with fear for all the inequities that my daughter would face in her lifetime, like employment discrimination and the wage gap, sexual harassment, and attacks on her bodily autonomy, just to name a few. I knew that adding Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court would only widen those inequities. As a reproductive rights attorney, I knew he had the potential—and desire—to dismantle abortion rights, making abortion access even worse in our country.
My daughter joined the world four weeks early, not long after I last attended a rally opposing Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings (maybe not a coincidence?).
Today, my daughter is almost two years old and a true toddler; she’s smart, stubborn, and without fear. I am also eight months into my second pregnancy, eagerly awaiting the birth of my second daughter. This pregnancy was different. For one, I’ve been chasing my older daughter around non-stop, so there’s little rest for this mama. And of course, everything—including pregnancy—is different during a global health crisis. Added to the normal worries of having a safe and healthy pregnancy are concerns over COVID-19 exposure, lack of information about how it may impact growing babies and pregnant people, and uncertainty about childbirth during an era of social distancing and personal protective equipment.
Facing a pandemic during my pregnancy was unexpected. But now with Justice Kavanaugh on the bench of the highest court of the land, I’m not surprised by our ongoing fight for the future of the courts— their impact on abortion access and rights, and what that means for women, girls, and pregnant people.
Being pregnant again during this moment for the courts and abortion access feels like déjà vu from my last pregnancy. It seems as if we’re just barely holding the line for our rights on so many fronts. Last week, Trump confirmed his 200th judge, and the Supreme Court released the decision in June Medical Services v. Russo. While the case was largely touted as a win for abortion rights, if you dig a bit deeper into the decision, things get more complicated. Chief Justice Roberts, no friend to reproductive rights, voted to strike down the Louisiana abortion restriction only due to his reliance on precedent. But in his concurring opinion, he detailed a roadmap to curtail abortion rights in the future. And—coming full circle for reproductive rights advocates—was Justice Kavanaugh’s dissenting opinion, where he reminded us how dangerous he is for abortion rights and access.
The Court’s decision in June Medicalshould have recognized and supported abortion rights and access, especially for those that are most impacted by abortion restrictions, just as two years ago we should have added a different Supreme Court justice, one that would ensure that our rights—particularly of those that are most marginalized—are protected and a reality.
Much as of late has made me nervous for my daughters’ futures. There is considerable work to do in the fight for gender justice, equality, and freedom. And the country has only begun to grapple with its white supremacy and systemic racism.
I hope that two years from now, I can look back to this moment and see the progress that our country has made to build a world where each one of us has the power, resources, and support to care for ourselves, our families, and our communities.