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The Uterine State of America: Our lives depend on Roe v. Wade

We must protect Roe v. Wade and abortion rights. Freedom will be up for grabs if we don’t.

Nadia Frye Leinhos of Brighton (center) led a chant as she marched after an emergency rally for abortion rights at the State House on Tuesday.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Those who claim to uphold the Constitution are losing sight of justice.

We cannot afford to let freedom waver and be put up for debate. Freedom is life. Everything else is a slow death. And we, America, have always been dying slowly, and sometimes quick.

Abortion, and the legal access to one, is a reproductive right, a human right. We’re going to lose it.

The Supreme Court of 2022 would have us believe abortion cannot be implicitly protected by any constitutional provision because there is no reference to it in the Constitution.

In a draft of the majority opinion leaked to Politico, Justice Samuel Alito writes that we need to roll back Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, undoing a half-century of abortion rights in America. SCOTUS says the document is authentic, but it is not the Court’s final decision.

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Still, Amy Coney Barrett, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh are allegedly in alignment with Alito. Together, they make the majority. We cannot dismiss this as anything less than a probable attack against our freedom. A uterus should not be necessary to understand this as an act of oppression.

President Biden needs to prepare to call for an end to the filibuster. Make room for Congress to pass legislation and protect us. Otherwise, we are in for a freedom fight.

The rejection of Roe will not end at stopping abortion. To destroy a decision with 50 years of precedent so that a pregnancy becomes a part of the political process is to peel back every layer of privacy and the right to it.

Contraception, same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, voting rights, sodomy, segregation — it will all be up for political debate again. In a country entrenched in culture wars and bigotry, we could lose the right to learn languages other than English.

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There will be no safe spaces or autonomy once we allow them to deny abortion on the basis of enumeration. Alito wrote, “The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the nation’s history and traditions.”

Neither was the freedom for all people.

Dred Scott was divorced from his humanity based on his Blackness in a 1857 Supreme Court ruling. No Black person, free or slave, could claim US citizenship, the court said. It would not be until 1868, when the 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, that citizenship would be granted to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.”

Alito opines through the lens of the 1857 Supreme Court, through the constitutional view that deemed enslaved people three-fifths of a person. Abortion was not explicitly mentioned in the original Constitution because the founding fathers were not concerned with freedom in ways that included all people. The founding fathers believed people could be property. Bought. Sold. Owned.

Once a certain sector of people in power are able to own you and your personhood, they will keep pushing until you are living the life they say you must live, in accordance with their views.

Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. Your faith and opinions should not oppress the lives of others. But Alito is the same man who agreed that Hobby Lobby and other Christian corporations should be able to deny their employees medical coverage on the basis of their beliefs.

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States across the country have already begun to ban and deeply restrict abortion access. Reversing Roe will hurl us into a hell that may take a generation of fights to escape.

The draft cites a pattern of punishing abortion seekers and providers. Alito writes that antiabortion laws were “spurred by a sincere belief that abortion kills a human being.”

Economic injustice, food and housing insecurity, a lack of access to quality health care, and discrimination kill humans, too.

When one says they are pro-life, I wonder, do they fight for the people who are in the world already living? Do they fight for the pregnant women, trans men, and non-binary folk who die during childbirth? The United States has a staggering maternal mortality rate for a country with our resources. If one is forced into pregnancy, will the government be forced into providing child care, parental leave, economic equity?

Folk think we’ll talk about COVID and inflation less because abortion is the big, red flag right now. I would say consider COVID and inflation in why some people consider contraceptives and abortion.

There are health conditions, mental health conditions, financial circumstances, trauma, violence, and other factors involved in the decision to have an abortion. But honestly, one should not have to explain their choice. It should be personal, between a patient and their medical provider. It should never be criminal.

I’ve never had an abortion. One of my best friends was raped and impregnated before she even started middle school. Abortion, she told me, saved her life. Another friend, a mom now, just wasn’t ready when we were in college. Willing participation is paramount when it comes to parenthood.

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Dreaming of motherhood is something I do often. But becoming a parent is a choice — one that belongs not to state, church, court, or country. It is a personal decision.

America should not be able to hold a person hostage to their pregnancy, make one’s body a prison, and then call itself a land of liberty.

This draft is a great example as to why Supreme Court judges should not serve a lifetime term. Justices who preside over this kind of draconian decision-making do not know justice. They are sick with power.


Jeneé Osterheldt can be reached at jenee.osterheldt@globe.com and on Twitter @sincerelyjenee and on Instagram @abeautifulresistance.