Right now, thanks in part to extreme partisan gerrymanders, Republicans control government in 23 states, allowing them to enact increasingly aggressive restrictions. The lawmakers who so ardently pass these bills claim they are meant to protect life, but if that was their real motive, they would also work to provide easier access to contraception – thereby reducing the need for abortions. first – and increasing government support for families with babies and young children. Most don’t, of course.
While this is a dark time for reproductive freedom in America, it is also a time of opportunity. Keep in mind that the anti-choice movement got as much success as it did because it had a clear enemy: Roe v. Wade and the reaffirmation of this decision. On the other hand, the movement for the right to abortion has mainly played the defense, believing that the courts would serve as a safety net. Now the roles are turning. The Conservatives control the Supreme Court, and they are likely to win many victories there in the years to come. But they might soon tire of all these victories, for just as success breeds complacency, so defeat breeds urgency.
This moment is also an opportunity to recast the fight on abortion and reproductive rights in general. It should focus on women’s equality and liberty, not their privacy, the right upon which the Roe decision was based. The problem with this justification, which was raised by a tribunal of nine older men, is not only that it does not appear explicitly in the Constitution, but also that it carries innuendo of secrecy and even shame. It is a shaky foundation for such a fundamental right. It is much more difficult to refute calls for equality and freedom, as evidenced by the struggles and successes of the LGBTQ movement.
This movement, which took place around the same time as the fight for abortion rights, is largely a matter of pride. Much like the anti-abortion movement, its first breakthroughs did not take place in the courts but in the court of public opinion, which influences how the Supreme Court rules more than any other judge wants. admit.
Ultimately, this is how reproductive freedom must be safeguarded – through a concerted political campaign that mobilizes public support with a message of openness and pride, and emphasizes equality and l bodily autonomy of women. It must encompass not only the right to terminate a pregnancy, but also the right not to become pregnant in the first place by having easy access to contraception. This change may not happen tomorrow, but it won’t happen at all unless voters start to come out and choose representatives who support reproductive freedom, and convert that support into politics.
The Supreme Court will rule on Dobbs, but that won’t be the end of the story. This story, like most greater equality movements throughout American history, is not ultimately about the judiciary’s interpretation of the Constitution. It’s about the impact of large-scale social movements and ordinary people and their power to change the way we think – and defend – our most basic rights.