We knew it was a matter of time, not if, but when. Still, when a leaked draft written by Judge Samuel Alito of an impending ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court left no doubt that the Court’s conservative majority will end the right to abortion protected by the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision — it was a shock.
It felt like being shoved into a prison cell by faceless judges wearing dark robes and the metal door slamming shut. Why? Because you are a woman.
When the story hit, my thirty-something next-door neighbor’s reaction was immediate: “Anarchy! Let’s burn it all down.” I can’t say I blame her.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, it would be the first time in U.S. history where women and girls actually have fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers.
Think hard about that.
And although this has to do with all women — independent of age — the end of Roe will only succeed in driving poor women, women of color, and working-class women back into the shadows of illegal abortions, where many will die. Rich women, predominantly white, however, will always find a way to get an abortion.
“Rich, white women will have access to abortion without a problem. Poor women and women of color will be the biggest victims,” Joshua Prager, author of “The Family Roe” and leading expert on the issue, said in a recent interview with El Pais.
“They will be forced to travel to other states to exercise their right and will lack the resources to do this.” (This is already happening.)
“The Lancet,” one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world, put it succinctly.
“If the Supreme Court confirms its draft decision, women will die. The judges who vote to strike down Roe will not succeed in ending abortion. They will only succeed in ending safe abortions. Alito and his supporters will have women’s blood on their hands.”
The leaked draft has cleaved U.S. politics and law in half just six months before the midterm elections. The actual decision is expected this summer. It literally splits the nation in two: 33.6 million women are in danger of losing their right to an abortion, while 30.7 million live in States that will uphold the right. Even before the end of Roe, at least 44 states have already limited abortions, many at 20 to 24 weeks or at fetal viability.
This is when 80 percent of people in the U.S. support abortion.
“It’s terrible that an issue of human and reproductive rights is utilized as just one more political token,” Maria Cristina Muñoz, a media specialist of Paz Para La Mujer, a Puerto Rican non-profit women’s organization, told me.
“It is definitively a machista attitude that for centuries has perpetuated the thinking that we women are the property of men and that, maybe, because of ‘hormones,’ women can’t have the full right of deciding.”
Women are already marginalized, but it will be mostly Black and Hispanic women who will lose the most if Roe is overturned.
It is interesting to note that, according to a 2021 Pew Research, 58 percent of Hispanics believed abortion should be legal; forty-two percent of Hispanics thought it should always be illegal.
What you have now is a nation trying to figure out what happens next and if other issues pertaining to the right to privacy — such as interracial and same-sex marriages — will be threatened. (Roe is based on the right to privacy and not equality.)
Even the Supreme Court has been cast in a new light.
“Will this institution (the U.S. Supreme Court) survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said soon after the leak.
The leak has brought to life nightmares a la “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the novel written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood and set in a theocratic dictatorship based on 17th-century New England Puritan religious tenets.
Atwood recently revealed that she had put off writing it several times because it would be too unbelievable. Yet here we are.
“Ending legal abortion will not end abortion,” Cecile Richards, ex-President of Planned Parenthood, said recently. “It will simply mean that women are no longer safe in this country.”
“It’s another way of killing women or, if not killing them, then grabbing from them their basic right over their own bodies,” Frances Hernández Rodríguez, program director for Paz Para La Mujer, said during a recent discussion on abortion.
As we sift through all of these opinions and justifications — religious and otherwise — in the end, it is clear that it is women that will suffer, and this is unbearable.
“Ordinary,” said Aunt Lydia (the evilest of characters) in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time, it will. It will become ordinary.”
This will never be ordinary. It is a crime.