Staying the Course
News on the repro front has given us a case of whiplash lately.
On the authoritarian front:
A Texas judge overturns decades of science-based FDA approvals because of his political and religious beliefs and unilaterally decides that mifepristone is dangerous to women’s health. Idaho is trying to make it illegal for women to go to other states to access health. And, Alabama is trying to make it easier to adopt babies.
There is also a quieter disaster on the horizon in that there are growing OB/GYN deserts in anti-abortion states which puts women’s health at even greater risk. In 2018, it was reported that over half of U.S. counties had OB/GYN deserts. “More than 2.2 million women of childbearing age live in so-called maternity care deserts with no hospitals offering obstetric care, obstetric providers or birthing centers, according to the March of Dimes. An additional 4.7 million women of childbearing age live in counties with limited access to care”
This is their end game: banning abortions entirely and forcing women to give birth to babies without exceptions and without compassion.
At the same time, in the land where democracy and laws live, a judge in Washington state ordered the FDA not to restrict access to mifepristone in certain states, voters turned out in record numbers to elect a pro-democracy, pro-reproductive state supreme court justice in Wisconsin and Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State bought a three-year supply of mifepristone (seems like a good time to live in that other Washington!)
We are exactly where the overturning of Roe guaranteed we would be right now: in a volatile, state-by-state crazy quilt of rules and laws. The resulting chaos is terrifying for people who need help right now. However, there is something very important to note as a contrast between the two efforts: they’re at the end of their rope and we’re just beginning to climb ours.
We are making real progress:
Abortion is good politics for Dems. For, well, ever, conventional wisdom for Democrats was that it wasn’t good politics to talk about abortion. In fact, it was nearly impossible to get politicians to actually use the word. The brilliant Rebecca Traister demonstrates that putting reproductive freedom and justice at the center of our politics is a winning strategy. In particular, it is a winning strategy for young voters.
Progress building state political power. SCOTUS threw the fight for reproductive justice back to the states. And, wahoo, we are winning overwhelmingly in states when abortion is on the ballot. The results are that the number of women in state legislatures has grown steadily since 2016 and now is at about 31%, up from 25% in 2018. And once in office, women are gaining real power within those legislative bodies. Ninety-two women serve in the highest positions in their respective state legislature in the 2022 legislative session. This is the greatest number of women serving in leadership to date. We have equally positive results in state judiciaries. Here is an amazing map from Represent Women that illustrates that women make up the majority or close to it in almost every state judiciary. Of course, these aren’t all Democratic women, but we know from history that more women in office means more progressive policies enacted (or upheld).
Here are a few things you can do today:
Go to a rally near you: Here is a list of gatherings around the country. Or organize your own!
Get your pills!!! Go to Plan C and find out how to get your pills before you’re pregnant. Or tell someone else to get theirs.
Run for office. Any office! If you want to talk to someone about it or get some training, go to She Should Run.
Stay calm and carry on, friends, we are doing all the right things in all the right ways right now, and we are on the right side of history!