The outlook is bleak, but we keep making good trouble.
Rhetoric. The fiery things we say to rile folks up. They’re things we believe, edited down into pithy soundbites.
Me Too! Black Lives Matter! Love is Love! Bans Off Our Bodies!
All of these things are true and easy to remember. Morals condensed into three or four word slogans. They’re all different, and yet, when broken down to their base, remarkably similar. They’re all demands, pleas really, to honor each other’s humanity. They’re furious, hot tear-stained pleas, often falling on deaf ears, to treat each other as equals.
The overturning of Roe v. Wade is about abortion and about the rights of all women and pregnant people. It is also about so much more than that. A raft of other precedents, all predicated on the right to privacy, are now up for challenge. In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas specifically mentioned three decisions he thinks the court should revisit: the original decision that gave all Americans a right to privacy, the right to contraception access, and marriage equality. I wrote more in depth about privacy in a previous essay, Privacy — The Most Important Unwritten Right in the Constitution. And, just to clarify, because the internet is full of hot takes, Thomas didn’t mention Loving v. Virginia, the case that legalized interracial marriage because it rests on the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, not the due process clause.
Making abortion laws a states’ rights issue is not technically a national abortion ban, but it’s allowed for many state-level bans already, with more to come. It will, as many terrible laws often do, primarily affect poor people and people of color. It will make those who most need help significantly more vulnerable. But, it affects all those who are able to be pregnant. Without the ability to make decisions about their own bodies, without bodily autonomy, none are truly free. Women, and all those able to become pregnant, are merely chattel, existing for the sole purpose of birthing babies, no matter the circumstances.
Most of us learn, from a very young age, to be nice to one another. We learn to say please and thank you and share with others. What they don’t teach us is that as we get older, more people will hate us just for existing. More and more people will place their value judgments upon our heads and find us wanting. They will want to break us down so we will submit to their will, whether we agree with it or not. I’ve always been taught to be polite. “You’ll catch more flies with honey instead of vinegar.” The problem is, I’m kind of, for better or worse, “full of piss and vinegar.” I’ve tried to articulate my point over the years in a way that doesn’t fully anger those who disagree with me, but I’ve never shied away from expressing my opinions (even to those much older than me, much to my mother’s equal measure of horror and pride.) But, I’ve decided the time for polite is long over. Now is not the time for going high when they go low. Now is the time for speaking our minds, angrily and with venom.
They want us to give up, give in, and concede defeat. They want to break our collective soul. Good luck. They can try, but history skews in favor of the oppressed. Slavery, Jim Crow, oppression of women, hatred of the LGBTQ+ community, interment camps, reservations, bans on certain types of immigrants, police brutality; we’ve lived through it all. Despite the best efforts, we haven’t broken yet, and this latest blow won’t either. Each and every one just makes us stronger, fiercer, and more determined. We’re coming for you and we’re going to burn it all to the damn ground.
You can start by making donations to local organizations that support those seeking abortion services. A list of both local and national organizations can be found through this link at abortionfunds.org. You can also contact your representatives and Senators in Congress and insist on meaningful legislation to codify the reproductive rights of all people able to be pregnant. We all deserve bodily autonomy and privacy in our decision making. You can find your House Representative and Senators at congress.gov. And finally, there is a Bans Off Our Bodies Walkout on July 13, 2022, organized by Planned Parenthood. Find out more about that here.
As Beyoncé, and Big Freedia, so eloquently told us, “You won’t break my soul. You won’t break my soul. You won’t break my soul.”