On June 24, 2022, women in America were suddenly deprived of a fundamental constitutional right we have had for 50 years: the right to abortion. Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett misled us and some would say lied to us in their Senate confirmation hearings when they said they believed in and respected precedent when it came to Roe v Wade, the case enshrining a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body.
“This decision is inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
This radical right-wing extreme Supreme Court not only overturned Roe v Wade, it also overturned Casey as an additional slap in the face to women and the LGBTQ community in America. The idea of a right to privacy is at risk based on the language in the Dobbs decision, imperiling other civil and human rights along with the right to abortion.
Our country is about to be transformed. And not in a good way.
Dobbs is suddenly the law of the land. Reproductive rights legislation will be left up to the states.
States with trigger laws instantly made abortion a crime in three states: Kentucky, Louisiana and South Dakota. There are three states that require a 30-day period before a ban takes place: Idaho, Texas, and Tennessee. There are six more states where officials must certify that the legislation banning abortion is legally valid before the law kicks in: Mississippi, North Dakota, Wyoming, Arkansas, Utah and Missouri. And there are additional states that have old unenforced bans on abortion that could become enforceable: so called “zombie laws” that rise from the graveyard of history and become reinstated as current law. All told, there are 26 states that will be banning abortion immediately or in the near future and 16 states plus Washington, DC where abortion rights are protected.
This Supreme Court decision subjects all of us in America to religious zealots (Republicans) who have worked hard in 30 states to wield power in state legislatures. Their anti-choice laws will transport everyone living in these states in the “way back” machine to the pre-Roe era. Each of those 30 states is likely to enact their own versions of draconian anti-choice laws that could punish abortion providers, and/or women who abort a fetus, possibly even the Uber drivers who take them to get a procedure, or women who happen to get pregnant while passing through the state. (That’s Missouri. Don’t go there!)
Because of the Dobbs decision, we are in for a pitched battle over reproductive rights in every single state of our country. Republicans should be worried about the mid-terms because they thought they could make the conversation about Biden’s failures. Now millions of voters are going to be upset about reproductive rights and will vote with that single issue front and center.
The Will of the Majority Was Disregarded
Polling tells us that close to 70% of Americans want to allow women to have control of the choice to have an abortion at least in the first trimester. After that there is waning support for absolute control by the woman and more concern about the fetus or unborn child which means the state can intervene to protect it.
That’s why Roe v Wade was a good opinion. It reflected the views held by most Americans and tried to be even handed about the interests of the woman and the interests of the unborn shifting over the course of a pregnancy. But because the rabid religious right, which represents extremist views when it comes to abortion, is over-represented in many state houses in America today (writing regressive legislation they want to get passed even in blue states like Illinois), we are likely to see over-the-top anti-abortion legislation in many red states including total bans on abortion and fetal personhood laws at the time of conception. These laws will offend, enrage, and motivate millions of Americans to vote in the mid-terms.
Get Ready for Some Awful Laws From Republican States
Many anti-choice state laws will be immediate and cruel:
- Police in some states will investigate women who say they miscarried and will charge them with murder.
- Some states will force rape and incest victims as well as women whose health is at risk, to carry to term against their will.
- Some states will make it hellishly impossible for women to have IVF treatments because those treatments (which help women who want to have babies) always also involve the destruction of some embryos.
- Women who are storing frozen embryos for future implantation (sometimes there are 10 or 11 of them) could be forced by the state they live in to carry all of those embryos to term because a fetus will have rights in some states as if the fetus was already a preschooler.
- Women, depending on the state they live in, could be at risk if they cross state lines to get an abortion: they could be arrested and charged with murder when they return to the state they live in.
- Some of these red states will also ban contraceptives if state legislative proponents believe a fetus is a person at the moment of conception.
- Even if YOUR religion tells you a fetus is not a baby until it is born or not a baby until quickening or some other marker, this Supreme Court is forcing you to accept the religious tenets of your state legislators. This is religious tyranny, and it is not supposed to be allowed in our country. Read the First Amendment. Religious freedom was the motivation for our country in the first place.
Anti-choice laws undermine a woman’s economic independence. In Republican led anti-abortion states where extremists have power, women without access to abortion will no longer be able to plan when to have their families and will not be able to plan their futures. Mothers who cannot afford to have more children will be forced to have more children. This will more deeply affect many more women of color and women who are already struggling financially.
Alito’s opinion also undermines the right to privacy and equal protection for people who are not mainstream white, heterosexual and male. The opinion opens the door for any state legislature to engage in discrimination of all kinds. Republican states are the ones that will write and pass legislation that undermines human rights, civil rights and reproductive rights. What is coming are major disparities between red states and the blue states when it comes to these rights. We are already the divided states of America, but we will become the even more divided states of America now that this opinion is the law.
Ours is a country full of people who deeply believe in personal liberty and free choice. Over one million Americans are dead from Covid today, many of them died unnecessarily because they refused to get a vaccine. Many of these people were influenced by Trump and Republican Covid denialists. These Americans refused to get vaccinated or wear a mask because being told what to do by their government offended their sense of personal freedom. If state legislators think they can tell women what they can and cannot do with the most intimate private parts of their anatomies: their uteruses, they are in for a wakeup call. If state legislators think they can tell women that their government is forcing them to give birth against their will, they are in for a wake up call. This dictatorial intrusion by the government is about to create a huge political backlash.
Unintended Consequences the Rabid Religious Right Didn’t Consider
Even though the rabid religious right-wing Republicans believe they just won their 50-year battle against abortion and are ready to break out the champagne, they may be sorry about what they have done once the backlash kicks in. They have just condemned their red states to being loser states when it comes to economic success, for example.
Think about it. No woman who wants to have a career and/or raise a family (and that is most women and men who care about women) will want to live in a red state that has usurped a woman’s deeply personal right to choose what to do with her own body. Most women who want to have careers will be furious about losing this right even if their companies will fly them to California or New York or Chicago to get an abortion. Depending on how overbearing and intrusive the laws are in each state, women and the men who love them may be motivated to move out of state to avoid living in a backwater where women are treated like second class citizens.
For that matter, no one who is gay, or “of color” should feel safe in red states that are deconstructing their civil rights. No man married to a woman who has a career will want to live in a red state that does not protect his wife’s right to choose what she does with her body.
We might see a migration from red to blue states of highly educated, capable, progressive people with talent, skills and creativity that make them especially valuable to the work world, fleeing from red to blue states. Corporations might decide to move to blue states as well in order to attract the best and brightest to work for them. This is similar to the migration of talented people leaving Russia because of Putin’s war on Ukraine and repression of free speech. If this migration does happens, it will result in the loss of talent for Republican states that have chosen the 17th century over the 21st century.
PEOPLE WHO DIDN’T CARE BEFORE WILL UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF STATE LEGISLATURES
In the past, most Democrats and Independents have been relatively uninterested in state legislative races. Most people didn’t even know who their state legislators were.
This is about to change.
With every state writing its own rules that will deeply affect the liberty, freedom, and rights of their citizens, Americans will intensely care about who those state legislators are and will vote and work to help Democrats to win state legislative races. Republicans have proven they cannot be trusted to protect civil rights, voting rights, reproductive rights, and human rights.
In purple states that are teetering on the verge of turning blue, the Dobbs decision could become the force that tips the state legislature blue as worried women (and men) in the suburbs, exurbs and cities rise up to vote in the mid-terms and presidential elections. There is nothing like fear to inspire voting. The loss of the right to make decisions about your own body and the coming loss of civil rights and human rights will predictably trigger another blue wave that could be big even without Trump on the ticket. We will see.
Recent polling tells us that Americans already care a lot about this issue. 73% of Americans are closely following the news out of the Supreme Court about abortion rights. 71% of Democrats say they are more motivated to vote, but only 44% of Republicans.
Just wait until we start to get horror stories about a 13-year-old girl raped by her mother’s boyfriend who is being forced to carry that unwanted pregnancy to term against her will. Or the woman who got pregnant accidentally and could die if she carries to term but is being forced to do so against her will and the advice of her doctors.
The Handmaid’s Tale is coming to the state you live in unless that state is firmly controlled by Democratic legislatures, governors, secretaries of state and attorneys general.
What Can Be Done?
When a political party goes too far to the extreme, there is always backlash.
State houses in battleground states need to be helped to flip from red to blue. One group that is ready to help flip states from red to blue is the States’ Project. https://statesproject.org
This group has been hard at work already for many years. It knows how to find strong Democratic candidates to run for office in the most “flip-able” battleground states: teaches them how to campaign and helps them with financial support. Arizona is an example of a state that could be flip-able. If there are just two more Democrats in each chamber, Arizona will no longer be a red state. It will become a blue state.
There are Attorneys General who are publicly stating they will NOT enforce laws passed by red state legislatures that criminalize abortion or abortion providers. AGs have prosecutorial discretion.
A coalition of more than 60 state prosecutors and attorneys general from across the country declared Wednesday that they would not enforce laws that criminalize abortion
We need to insist that every AG in every state where a state legislature is banning abortion vow NOT to enforce these punitive laws. We must only vote for AGs who refuse to enforce laws criminalizing abortion.
The political terrain is about to change because of Dobbs. We don’t know how much just yet. That activism could make a big difference and influence election outcomes.
There is work to be done. Doors to knock on. People to call. People to drive to the polls. Letters to the editor to write. We must get out the vote. Here is the message we need to say over and over and over again:
A vote for any Republican is a vote against our country, our democracy, our human rights and our right to choose. Vote ONLY for Democrats! Republicans Can’t be Trusted.
The States Project is actively engaged in turning red states blue: https://statesproject.org/
Governors are the backstop for our democracy: Democratic Governors Association (DGA)
If you live in Illinois, be sure to vote in the primary and the general election for only Democratic Supreme Court judges.
In the Illinois primary, if you live in the second district, vote for Nancy Rotering for the Supreme Court of Illinois. She has been an active supporter of reproductive rights for women for many years and would make a terrific Illinois Supreme Court judge. She has been endorsed by Personal PAC. If Republicans win those judgeships in Illinois, despite all the work and effort to make Illinois a safe haven for women, Illinois would be in danger of losing everything we have fought for for 40 years for reproductive rights.
Talk with everyone you know and even people you don’t know: Vote only for Democrats in 2022 to protect our democracy and to protect reproductive rights. Join the fight and make a difference.