No more Roe v. Wade, how to keep from drowning

14 mins read

By Ann G. Daniels and Heidi Rand 

June 24, 2022: 
The Supreme Court has issued its long-dreaded decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization(In)Justice Alito wrote the opinion, as he did the draft that Politico leaked in May, which we analyzed in our earlier article. The final decision looks very much like the appalling leaked draft: it overturns Roe v. Wade and Casey, it states that abortion is not protected by the Constitution, and it returns the issue to the states – over half of which will now have laws outlawing abortion in whole or in part, including so-called “trigger bans.” Justices Kavanaugh, Roberts, and Thomas each wrote separately to concur with the decision: Roberts agreed with upholding Mississippi’s law but said he wouldn’t overturn Roe and Casey, but Thomas would go whole hog and overturn the decisions that for the moment still guarantee our rights to contraception and same-sex marriage.

If you live in California, it’s important to know: abortion is statutorily legal here and it’s considered the most “supportive” state in the US – and our CA elected leaders are now talking about adding a Constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to abortion as “another layer of protection.” But, you also need to know: even in California, 40% of counties have NO clinics that provide abortions, and abortion is more difficult statewide for low-income women and women of color. Many states near California have, or will have, bans, leaving nearly a million and a half out-of-state women with the nearest abortion provider here in California. Even where abortion is legal, women – and healthcare providers – can be confused or subject to disinformation campaigns: if you think abortion is illegal where you live or work, it might as well be. And no matter what, legal abortion doesn’t mean accessible abortion, and there has never been equal access here or anywhere else.

So, what’s the opinion about?

Well, it’s about 79 pages long, plus an appendix, plus the concurring opinions and a dissent by Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer. Sorry – it’s grim, we get our humor where we can. Seriously – at a mere few hours after the opinion dropped, we’re still slogging through it, but here’s what we can tell you about the majority opinion. According to Alito:

  • Abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution, and the Supreme Court should not have meddled
  • There is no historical foundation for a right to privacy or equality that can underlie a Fourteenth Amendment right to abortion
  • Roe was “egregiously wrong and deeply damaging”
  • It’s time to “return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives”
  • Don’t worry about contraception or LGBTQ+ rights or any other rights, this is only about abortion! (we paraphrase).

And if you believe that last one – about other rights being safe – wanna buy a nice bridge? It’s hard to think even Alito believes his “Abortion is different” bleatings, since the “logic” behind his rejection of abortion applies 100% to contraception and LGBTQ+ rights – also not mentioned in the Constitution and historically criminalized. Indeed, the Supreme Court opinions on ALL these rights are inextricably intertwined in what Alito calls “egregiously wrong” reasoning. Oh, guess what else isn’t mentioned in the Constitution? Interracial marriage – and Alito’s “historical analysis” of abortion reads chillingly like an analysis of anti-miscegenation laws. And let’s also talk about disability rights – as this powerful statement says, “abortion rights are disability rights.” In fact, this opinion is a time bomb threatening a massive part of our society. Justice Thomas wins points for scorched-earth honesty – his dissent says, let’s revisit a whole lot of individual liberties like contraception and same-sex marriage and striking down sodomy laws, and let’s get rid of all of them.

And lest you think Thomas is only one extremist voice: it’s already begun. A bill before the Louisiana legislature defined life as beginning at conception and allowed anyone who performed or received an abortion to be charged with homicide – after public fury led to removal of the criminal penalties, the author withdrew the bill, but keep your eye on the IUD! Some intrauterine devices prevent implantation but not fertilization. And the battle over Plan B and medical abortion (abortion pills), which many women get from out of state by mail, hasn’t even started.

Take a deep breath. It’s really bad, but there are still women who will need abortions, and there’s still work to be done – so, read on for what you can do to help. And then tell everyone you know, so they can help. And remember – we played a long game to get to Roe, and then the anti-choice forces played a long game to get to this point. It’s no time to stop fighting now.

What you can do:

Scared? Furious? We’re here to help you turn your fear and rage into constructive action. Emotional gas tank drained by the past two years, six years, time has lost its meaning, wondering why you feel numb at this latest horror? No one blames you, and you can do important things while you protect yourself emotionally. There’s something for everyone on this list, and some of these only take minutes. Pick one, pick more, but do them, now.

1. Donate to an abortion fund, or help people find or get to a safe abortion provider. This isn’t for everyone, but if you can make even a small donation, it can help someone in great need. Here’s a great list of funds helping women in states where abortion will be restricted or unprotected; here’s a list of funds in the 13 states with trigger laws. There’s also the National Network of Abortion Funds, the Abortion Care Network, and INeedanA, which helps people find providers. And of course Planned Parenthood. The Miscarriage and Abortion Hotline gives “expert advice on self-managing” miscarriage and abortion and the Repro Legal Helpline provides “legal information and support to people navigating complex laws in order to self-determine their reproductive lives.” ACCESS Reproductive Justice helps people with practical support like a healthline, transportation, lodging, and funding, because the legal right to abortion is only the first step; the Apiary Collective “helps groups that provide logistical assistance to people getting abortions.”

2. VOTE! Seriously, folks – these were the Future-Convict-in-Chief’s pet Justices who made this happen. If this isn’t enough to get you in a Get Out The Vote fury, we don’t know what will be – so make sure you’re registered, make sure everyone you know is registered, inform yourself about local elections and candidates. Don’t forget judicial elections, district attorneys, sheriffs and other legal and law-related positions – these folks go on to higher office! And find out about Indivisible National’s plan to Give No Ground in November. We still have some rights to save.

3. Protest! The US Supreme Court justices don’t have to worry about re-election, but they’re still people (in theory) and many federal judges have admitted off the record that public opinion means something to them. Get out, get loud, get motivated to do more. Many protests were already scheduled for the day the opinion dropped, but the We Won’t Go Back events list also includes ongoing protests, check it for a protest near you. 

4. Tell Senator Feinstein the filibuster has to go. Without the filibuster, we’d likely have passed legislation codifying the right to abortion (and lots of other important legislation) long ago: for instance, the Women’s Health Protection Act, H.R. 3755, which codifies Roe v. Wade, which the House passed and the Senate killed. We’ve been working on this for a while, it’s long past time she got on the job. See our article from 2021

What to say:

My name is ________, my zip code is ________, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want Senator Feinstein to fight to abolish the filibuster. We can’t pass the Women’s Health Protection Act and other legislation we need as long as Republicans can block them by filibuster. 

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: email; (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Call your Members of Congress every day – it’s fast and easy with, you can call them in five minutes while you’re waiting for your coffee!

5. Urge corporations to step up by ensuring benefits supporting all reproductive health needs. This strategy isn’t taken often, but it can affect literally millions of lives! 

  • Here’s a great one-pager about what companies can do.
  • Thank the firms doing good things! Citigroup, Yelp, Apple, Levi Strauss, Bumble, Match Group and others have recently expanded employee health coverage of reproductive care, including covering travel expenses for out-of-state abortion care. Some firms, such as Salesforce, have offered to relocate employees and their families to states that respect women’s constitutional rights to reproductive autonomy. Uber and Lyft announced they will pay legal costs for any drivers sued under Texas’s bounty-hunting provisions. Contact these companies and make sure they keep to their promises now that you know what has hit the fan.

6. Understand it goes beyond abortion to economic justice: Roe v. Wade never guaranteed abortion access, and the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funds paying for abortion in most cases – meaning that abortion is inaccessible for women who can’t afford it and women who can’t get to a clinic: poor women, many women of color, rural women, women in deep red states, and the list goes on. The right to abortion is meaningless without reforms building the economic power of women: wages, job security, family-friendly labor policies, and everything needed to give women a truly equal voice and place in society.

Ann G. Daniels has enjoyed a checkered professional background, including many years working in reproductive rights advocacy through good times and bad. She’s furious but always rising to fight again and hopes you are also.

Heidi Rand fights for progressive change with skills gained as a Ninth Circuit staff attorney and civil rights lawyer, using her words to inform and inspire others to take action.

Dobbs v. Jackson, photo by Victoria Pickering

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Indivisible East Bay is a chapter of the Indivisible movement. We are a grassroots organization focused on stopping the Trump administration’s policies.

We cover the East Bay Area, spanning California’s 11th, 13th, and 15th congressional districts. In addition to IndivisibleEB, there are a number of other Indivisible groups covering specifics cities, countries, and even neighborhood. Whenever possible, we try to work together in order to build a coalition of like-minded activists resisting the Trump agenda.

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