Maeve Higgins: Roe v Wade ruling a 'bomb blast' for women's rights

The news that Roe v Wade has been overturned is a frightening glimpse of how violent Republicans have become, writes Maeve Higgin in New York.
Maeve Higgins: Roe v Wade ruling a 'bomb blast' for women's rights

Abortion-rights advocate Eleanor Wells, 34, chants her slogan during a protest in Los Angeles on Friday. Picture: Jae C. Hong/AP

“The health and life of women in our nation are now at risk.”

US president Joe Biden’s fury yesterday afternoon did nothing to change the fact the US Supreme Court has overruled Roe v Wade, denying people the constitutional right to abortion, a right we have had for almost 50 years. 

We knew this was coming because a draft opinion was leaked last month. But knowing a bomb is about to go off does nothing to protect you from the explosion, especially when it’s nuclear.

This decision could lead to total bans on abortions in about half of the states in this country. 

The instant the ruling came out, women could no longer get an abortion in Louisiana, South Dakota, or Kentucky. The blast radius is massive and still rippling out, with reactions running the gamut from celebrations to protests.

For some, it’s less of a shock than others.

'I can't trust lawmakers'

“I’m used to this, used to being illegalised and so easy to dispose of,” says Alejandra Pablos, a reproductive justice community organiser in Texas, who has also been fighting deportation for nine years now. She understands how quickly laws can strip a person of their rights and make them into a criminal.

“I can’t trust lawmakers,” she says.

I don’t know where this criminalisation will stop.”

None of us knows, because this is unchartered territory — but the signs are ominous. 

The three dissenting judges in the 6-3 ruling warned in their statement that their colleagues’ approach to the Roe v Wade ruling “places in jeopardy other rights, from contraception to same-sex intimacy and marriage”. 

It is a terrible day for healthcare and reproductive justice in America, and a frightening glimpse of how violent Republicans have become.

The pain of this ruling is compounded by the fact the majority of Americans want to keep Roe v Wade, and the Democratic Party currently controls the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives. 

Ordinary Americans are urged by lawmakers to vote, and they do, and this still happens.

Blake Herbert Hicks, a teacher and a mother of grown-up kids in Tallahassee, Florida, said the ruling makes her feel “like throwing up, like I’ve been disregarded as an adult, as a person”.

Public protests

Abortion-rights protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday. Picture: Jose Luis Magana/AP.
Abortion-rights protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday. Picture: Jose Luis Magana/AP.

Women are weeping on the streets of New York City, public protests are bubbling up, and plans to access reproductive care are being shared quickly online. 

There is a sense of purposeful rage, but it is coupled with a looming dread that perhaps it is all in vain. 

The timing of the decision has led to an intense sense of whiplash and a growing distrust of an increasingly radical Supreme Court.

The day before the highest court in the land stripped people of their right to bodily autonomy, the same judges struck down a New York law regulating who is allowed to carry a concealed weapon in public. 

The court expanded gun rights nationwide, just weeks after a gunman killed 19 children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas. 

How much more can we take?

“I feel hopeless, sad, and angry,” says Chris Roberti, an actor and a father of two little girls. 

I’m trying to find a way to raise our children in a different, better country.”

When the news broke, Mr Roberti wrote on social media: “Abortion is autonomy. White Christian fascists are winning. Flight or fight, gang.”

He was organising childcare when we spoke, hoping to make it to the protest organised in Manhattan yesterday evening.

I ask Ms Pablos what her plan is now. A woman of colour, an immigrant, already targeted, criminalised, and oppressed by the US government, she plans to keep fighting despite the risk.

“I will keep giving rides to those who need that, I will share resources with those who reach out, and I will keep using my social media to talk about reproductive healthcare.”

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