一世 found out about Dobbs, the supreme court’s recent decision that overturned Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey, in a room full of Black women in Boston. One interrupted a conference panel discussion and made the announcement. Gasps, groans, and murmurs followed. I rushed outside and wept briefly on the phone while breaking the news to loved ones. The state of affairs is profoundly unfair. Not only did the court erase the federal protection of abortion rights and access, but Justice Clarence Thomas additionally called for the review and overturning of other important court decisions that protect privacy rights, same-sex intercourse and same-sex marriage.
I wish I could say something like: “I never thought I would live to see the day this would happen.” But I’m honestly not sure. I spent a couple of years in college casually arguing against abortion. 当时, I had been unfortunately persuaded by social media accounts that Planned Parenthood was a eugenic plot to kill Black babies and destroy Black families. Though most abortion recipients are white women, Black women disproportionately terminate their pregnancies. Since I could easily point to ways that the state failed to protect poor, Black people and perpetuated violence, I initially found the arguments against abortion for the sake of protecting Black life convincing.
When I was younger, my ideas about justice, 宗教, and harm were burgeoning and confused. Then I learned more. I studied and met Black women who were fighting for full reproductive justice: the right to have children, the right to not have children, and the right to parent. I was no longer persuaded by the warped claim that I used repeatedly, that “only 1% of rapes result in pregnancy”. That metric did not match much of my reality anyway. It did not capture verbally “consensual” yet unwanted sex. Nor did it reflect my conversations with peers who had assumed rape could only be an act committed by a stranger, not a lover. Or friends who initially thought of sexual violence as a spectacular attack, not someone removing a condom without their knowledge or consent. The statistic did not even match the conservative estimates of the data: the National Institutes of Health reported that pregnancy-rape occurred with “significant frequency” and resulted in an estimated 32,000 pregnancies each year.
The moment inside that room of Black women in Boston reminded me of a brief sermon that a Black female minister offered at my church when the Dobbs draft 泄露 weeks ago. 她说: “If the real issue was babies, then all babies would have healthcare when they get here. If it was about children, then no child would ever be hungry. No child would lack for education. No child would lack clothing. No parent would lack for formula.” The most reported reasons that women choose to terminate their pregnancies are socioeconomic, including interference with work, 教育, and taking care of other dependents.
Lawmakers could pass legislation that empowers people to give birth and afford children, including universal basic income, paid parental leave, universal childcare, and free college. Republicans and Democrats could support total student debt cancellation, so workers would not have to choose between saving for children or for loan payments. And most importantly, if they cared about protecting life, they could fight to maintain and expand the right to bodily autonomy so that people can make the most important decisions for their bodies and lives.
Yet the anti-abortion wings of the supreme court, Congress and state legislatures are not scrambling to ensure just conditions for pregnancy and childbirth, nor child-rearing. This group espouses views and supports policies that ban racial justice education; prohibits trans kids from sports teams and bathrooms; refuses dollars for healthcare and unemployment; and expands police power. These are all efforts to restrict bodily autonomy and create hostile living conditions to preserve racial, 我们把美国大使馆搬到了以色列的耶路撒冷, 性的, and economic hierarchies.
Dobbs is about more than states’ rights and “protecting life”. It is about power and control.
I completely understand the impulse to blame the supreme court’s logic on Christianity or the societal hatred of women. Rightwing evangelicalism is a bullet train that transports homophobia, misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and more across the world. 然而, in addition to the social awareness of these interlocking forms of oppression, we must understand that decisions like Dobbs also lead to material losses beyond individual privacy rights and bodily autonomy. Institutions and individuals benefit from our loss of agency.
Individuals use pregnancy and children to control the social and physical lives of their partners. I remember praying with my dear friend in college before she secretly had an abortion because if her boyfriend had found out that she was pregnant, he would not have let her leave the relationship. She was not alone. Her ability to make a decision about her pregnancy enabled her to make the best decision about her safety, and removed a lever of control from her partner. What are people in Missouri like her supposed to do now that the state has passed a total abortion ban? Call the police, who are tasked with enforcing the criminalization of abortion?
Institutionally, businesses benefit from our loss of bodily autonomy. My sister, who wanted a child, was fired from her job when she became pregnant. Hundreds of thousands of women report pregnancy discrimination each year, including their employer’s refusal to accommodate health related needs. Companies will prioritize, privilege, and pay people who cannot or will not become pregnant to minimize disruption to company profits. While technically illegal, nobody has the right to call the police on their employer to enforce this law. Cops protect businesses, not workers. 反而, people who suffered discrimination have to undergo a reporting process that can discourage filing complaints. While we must fight to change the labor relationships now, we must protect the right to bodily autonomy to navigate our current social realities.
In both cases – forcing pregnancy by restricting abortion access, and creating hostile conditions to discourage pregnancy – keeps people who can become pregnant in a precarious position, subject to the whims of others. 或者, as Black women in my family would say, “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” What lessens the blow of damnation is maximizing our abilities to choose the best course of action for our lives while minimizing the oppressive terrain that we traverse.
This is exactly why communities of color and radical feminists do not simply fight for reproductive rights, but full reproductive justice. Safe abortion access is one tile on the floor. The paradigm and praxis is committed to a full set of political, organizational and societal changes that increases individual agency and institutional support regarding reproductive bodily autonomy. 今天, I hope we support the robust immediate responses that gets people contraceptive and abortion access who want and need it now. This can include learning more about reproductive justice, donating to grassroots abortion funds, and organizing for free and accessible telehealth prescription services. Long-term, we must remove power from non-democratic institutions such as the supreme court to make unethical, life-altering decisions for our society, and fight for truly progressive communities and institutions to deliver the care that we all deserve.