The now infamous Supreme Court draft opinion that struck down Roe v. Wade is not only a shameful sabotage of a 50-year-old precedent, it is an epic attack on the fundamental right of women to participate equally in American society.
For Roe, it is not only about the medical procedure of abortion and protecting women’s health and lives, it is also about women’s autonomy, dignity and status as citizens. A woman’s choice of whether or not to give birth to a child is at the core of her existence, and when politicians take control of that choice, she is stripped of second-class citizenship and allowed to make decisions about her life. considered incapable.
The opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, traces women back to the 1960s when we endured the powerlessness and humiliation of male politicians who dictate our child-bearing choices. I have gone through that time and will fight like hell against those who will force my daughters and granddaughters to surrender their rights.
I feel like I’m coming full circle, when so many women’s lives were hanging by a thread and where my career as an activist began.
This was 1969. My husband had suddenly left my three young daughters and me, leaving us stranded without financial support. Our family was in crisis, and when I found out a few weeks later that I was pregnant, I knew it was impossible to deliver a new baby, while my daughters needed them too. So, I decided to have an abortion.
The stigma associated with abortion left me in a state of widespread loneliness and in this moment of personal crisis I could not go to anyone. And because state law fundamentally restricted access to the process, that decision had humiliating consequences.
One option was to have an illegal abortion that involved significant risks that could result in death or serious, long-term medical consequences, which left me terrified for the well-being of my daughters. The only other option was to apply for the hospital procedure, which requires written permission from the person who abandoned me and my daughters and requires approval from the all-male hospital board.
Board inquiries in a cold, brightly lit hospital conference room was the most humiliating experience of my life. I was asked if I was able to get my kids dressed in the morning and even if I was satisfying my husband sexually.
That experience led to a lifetime of activism that eventually took me to the forefront of the pro-election movement. Many of them were Republicans. But not anymore – because the party of moderation and individual liberty has today turned into a party of intolerance and cruelty with the intention of waging war on the rights and freedoms of innumerable women achieved over the past 50 years. The fact that the Republican-backed law now excludes rape, incest, and exceptions to woman’s life is evidence of the extremism and misogyny that signify their contempt for women’s autonomy and freedoms.
Today, I am once again uncertain of the future women face as the value of our lives is humiliated and threatened – and I am fully and deeply determined that something about our country is about to change so fundamentally.
The coming months are crucial for resistance at several levels. We must take advantage of every opportunity: from national political protest, to local community activism, to civil disobedience. Certainly, the election and re-election of pro-poll MLAs should be a top priority in the crucial upcoming mid-term elections. I made this fight my life’s work five decades ago and by God I will bring that fire to this fight once again. Join me in making sure that the hands of time don’t turn back.
Kate Michaelman is the former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America and the author of “With Liberty and Justice for All: A Life Spent Protecting the Right to Choice.” ©2022 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.