Justice Samuel Alito’s now infamous Supreme Court draft opinion, repealing Roe v. Wade, is not just a shameful sack of 50-year-old precedent, it’s an epic assault on the basic right of women to participate as equals in America. society.
Roe is not just about the medical procedure of abortion and the protection of women’s health and life, it is also about women’s autonomy, dignity and status as citizens. A woman’s choice whether or not to bear a child is at the very core of her being, and when politicians take control of that choice, she is relegated to second-class citizenship and deemed unable to make her own life decisions. .
Justice Alito’s opinion takes women back to the 1960s, when we endured the powerlessness and humiliation of having male politicians determine our reproductive choices. I lived these moments and I will fight like hell against those who would force my daughters and my granddaughter to give up their rights.
In 1969, my husband had suddenly left us, my three young daughters and me, blocking us without financial support. Our family was in crisis, and when I learned a few weeks later that I was pregnant, I knew it was impossible to give a new baby what it deserved while giving my daughters what they needed. need. So I made the decision to have an abortion.
Abortion-related stigma has left me in a pervasive state of loneliness and total silence, with no one to turn to in this moment of personal crisis. And, because state law drastically restricted access to the process, that decision had humiliating consequences.
One option was to have an illegal abortion, which carried significant risks that could result in death or serious, long-term medical repercussions, which I feared for the well-being of the girls. The only other option was to seek a hospital procedure, which required written permission from the man who had abandoned me and my daughters, and approval from an all-male hospital board.
The jury interrogation in a cold, brightly lit hospital conference room was the most humbling experience of my life. I was asked if I was able to dress my children in the morning and even if I had satisfied my husband sexually.
This experience sparked a life of activism that eventually brought me to the front ranks of the pro-choice movement. Many Republicans were among us. But not anymore, because a party of moderation and individual freedom has today transformed into a party of intolerance and cruelty, determined to wage war against a myriad of rights and freedoms for women. achieved over the past 50 years. The fact that Republican legislation now excludes exceptions for rape, incest, and woman’s life speaks to the extremism and misogyny that epitomizes their disregard for women’s autonomy and freedom.
Today, I am once again uncertain about the future that women face as the value of women’s lives are degraded and threatened – and I am totally and deeply convinced that something in our country must fundamentally change. .
The coming months are crucial for resistance on many levels. We must seize every opportunity: from national political protest, to local community activism, to civil disobedience. Certainly the election and re-election of pro-choice lawmakers in the upcoming critical midterm elections must be a top priority. I made this fight my life’s work five decades ago, and by God, I will bring that fire to this fight again. We must ensure that time does not turn against women.
Kate Michelman (facebook.com/kate.michelman) is Chairman Emeritus of NARAL Pro-Choice America and author of “With Liberty & Justice for All: A Life Spent Protecting the Right to Choose”.