Speak Now by Columnist Maddie Raymond: National uproar needed to reinstate Roe v. Wade

  • Maddie Raymond FILE PHOTO

Published: 6/28/2022 1:26:26 PM

They did it. Less than two months after it was leaked that the Supreme Court was gearing up to overturn Roe v. Wade, the news came on the morning of June 24 that it was done.

In a 6-3 vote, federal protection of the right to an abortion for birthing people was gone. As a female aligning person myself, it hit me in a wave of numbness and nausea. Yet I wasn’t shocked, not really. I felt this was inevitable, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen this fast. I went downstairs and told my mom, and we shared a moment of grief. Then I went back upstairs and got angry.

For years, I have been getting emails off and on from liberal institutions warning me that Roe v. Wade was under attack. It was usually followed by a request for my money. Ten or fifteen dollars, they said, would make all the difference in protecting the right to bodily autonomy of anyone in the United States with a uterus. Yet what happened on June 24 proves they were wrong. Perhaps my fifteen dollars did nothing. Or perhaps those institutions didn’t use it correctly.

Now, I’ve talked before about the pitfalls of major liberal nonprofits. Widely known nonprofits like the Red Cross have a history of raising billions of dollars from the well-meaning public and not having much in terms of aid to show for it (ProPublica). With their huge red letters and urgent calls to donate, it can be hard not to drop a couple dollars every time another email lands in the inbox. But in the end, it wasn’t enough, because Roe v. Wade is gone. All of those dollars we gave didn’t do the thing those emails told us they would. So, in the aftermath of this tragedy, we must rethink our approach. As it has been and will continue to be, the way forward is mutual aid and solidarity to make real structural change happen. We must reinstate Roe v. Wade, but we can’t rely on the establishment to do it.

All things considered, this won’t affect me personally much at all. Like I’ve said before I’m immensely privileged in that I am white and middle-class from a liberal area, an intersection of identities that has enabled me to have a Nexplanon birth control implant placed in my arm, greatly lessening the probability that I will become pregnant before I’m ready and seek an abortion. But for so many people across the United States, the vital right to bodily autonomy has just been ripped away from them. They must now live knowing that just by seeking sexual freedom they may end up with an unwanted pregnancy that may be logistically near impossible to terminate.

Even before Roe v. Wade news was overturned, it was already increasingly tough for people to seek abortions in traditionally red states such as Mississippi and Alabama, whose abortion clinics have dwindled over the past decades. This was an issue only exacerbated for low-income people who lacked the ability to take time off work or arrange transportation to faraway abortion clinics. The downfall of Roe v. Wade likely won’t change much in our home state of Massachusetts, but in those states the number of abortion clinics will decrease to zero. The people most affected by this will be BIPOC.

Recently, I started watching the movie Don’t Look Up on Netflix. I couldn’t even get halfway through due to my anxiety, but its message resonated with me. Politicians will often decide whether or not to address an issue based on whether or not it benefits their electability to do so. All those major liberal institutions and politicians we respect so much often do this, choosing to bide their time taking concrete action on issues like protecting Roe v. Wade in order to solicit donations from people like us.

Letting Roe v. Wade fall by the wayside wasn’t a fluke event, but a calculated casualty in the mainstream liberal establishment that decided that ensuring politicians another term and soliciting next year’s millions in donations was more important than making good on their promises to protect the people they claim to serve. Meanwhile, the conservative establishment is in lockstep with each other, marching forward an agenda that begins with overturning the progressive wins in favor of human rights such as Roe v. Wade and ends in blatant fascism. The conservative threat is no longer the bogeyman in the corner; it is well and truly here.

So, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to go to our reps and make it clear that there will be national outrage about Roe v. Wade’s downfall. No, not just a quick outcry and some celebrity messages but a nationwide uproar that will push for real change. We will let them know that their electability hinges on not only reinstating Roe v. Wade but codifying it into law so it can never be brought down again.

As for those liberal institutions, the next time you get an email from a PAC (political action committee) or other institution soliciting you for money as the solution to all this, you will take that ten to fifteen dollars and instead put it towards a mutual aid fund giving aid to someone directly impacted by the attack on the rights of people with uteruses or toward organizations working to codify Roe v. Wade. If you don’t have extra money to give, or would like to do more, you can show up to protests or spread information in order to ensure Roe v. Wade’s reinstatement becomes one of the hottest issues as the election cycle ramps up.

While the climate of Congress isn’t exactly conducive to major progressive action, we have seen over the past few years what the power of a widespread, targeted national uproar can do. Before it was overturned, 54% of Americans agreed that Roe v. Wade should be upheld (The Washington Post). If we can turn our support inward, towards doula networks, abortion funds, and other community organizations protecting the rights of birthing people, we can stand a chance in reinstating Roe v. Wade while at the same time protecting the most marginalized and vulnerable from the brunt of Roe v. Wade’s downfall.

With a lot of issues today, from climate change to the state of capitalism, it can seem like there’s not a lot we can do to stop harm from coming to those already most marginalized in the United States. I myself am mourning this latest blow to the rights of the most marginalized in this country, and my sense of optimism is at a low. But the fight is not over yet. Now is the time to look inward and build opposition to the overturning of Roe v. Wade from the inside out. June 24 has made it clear that following the liberal establishment’s lead will not save us and our rights. We must save ourselves.

Madeline Raymond, who lives in the hilltowns, writes a monthly column. 


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