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This is war, and if you’re not fighting, you don’t care

Roe v. Wade, a teeter-totter of gun reform, and a free Trump is American violence unchecked

Abortion rights protesters rallied at the Supreme Court in June.Kevin Wolf/Associated Press

Freedom was never won.

There is no finish line marked free. We are free in both broad strokes and specific spaces under an umbrella of oppression. Liberation is a practice. And we are a nation who only practices power.

Americans made the mistake of believing liberty was the culture of this land and not something they had to continually expand upon and fight to maintain. When your nation is born out of violence, there is no easy escape.

The Supreme Court overturned Roe. A reproductive right, a human right, a right no longer protected by the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. Not by the right to privacy nor liberty.

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The court called Roe a mistake while comparing it to other mistakes, like upholding segregation a la Plessy v. Ferguson. To compare upholding abortion rights to upholding segregation is wild.

Even more concerning, Justice Clarence Thomas pointed to cases like Lawrence v. Texas, Griswold v. Connecticut, and Obergefell v. Hodges in his concurring opinion. And, while he didn’t mention Loving v. Virginia, this line of thinking puts interracial marriage and integration in the court’s crosshairs, too.

What’s next? Has SCOTUS effectively opened the door to overturn protections for contraception, sodomy, and same-sex marriage? And when one comes for same-sex marriage, will interracial marriage and desegregation follow?

We cannot afford silence. We can no longer comfort ourselves by saying the majority of the country does not agree with our highest court. There are 26 states on their way to banning abortion. Contraceptives are endangered, too. Making a prison of one’s own person is a terrifying cruelty.

We must fight. The filibuster? End it. Executive orders? Impose them.

In Massachusetts, many of us are ready to rumble.

On Friday, Governor Charlie Baker issued an executive order protecting Massachusetts abortion providers who may treat residents from states that ban abortion. We have to do everything we can to protect our personhood.

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“By restricting abortion access, this Court is putting the health of the most vulnerable people at risk and we must use every tool, at every level of government, to protect reproductive rights and save lives,” Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley said in a statement.

“President Biden must recognize this as the public health emergency that it is and commit to utilizing every executive authority necessary to protect abortion access, including expanding access to medication abortion and over-the-counter-birth control, and protect the safety of those seeking and providing abortion care,” Pressley said.

No tool should go neglected. We must vote oppressive congressmen out. We need statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico. We need more representatives. Expand SCOTUS to 13 judges and revoke lifetime terms.

Be loud. Be angry. Be active.

A woman’s right to choose is a human right. It should not be easier for a president to incite an insurrection, cosign the hanging of his vice president, and betray a nation than it is for a woman to control her body. Women and people who can get pregnant are going to die because of this decision.

America loves to hopscotch with hypocrisy.

We live in a country that can hear evidence of a corrupt presidency while the Department of Justice refuses to arrest him. We live in a nation where a Supreme Court justice is influenced by a far-right extremist who tried to overturn our election at home and no one seems to care.

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In America, a teenager should not be free to buy a machine gun while a person is restricted from exercising reproductive autonomy. It should not be easier to demolish a school as a response to a mass shooting than it is to ban military-level assault weapons.

Yes, Congress managed to finally pass bipartisan gun legislation. A helpful step, but our lawmakers need to go much further in preventing gun violence.

The legislation passed Friday still fails to ban the sale of large-capacity magazines. Universal background checks didn’t pass. There is no mandatory waiting period for gun sales. No special license for assault weapons. And people under 21 can still buy a semiautomatic weapon. Even the enhanced background check for young buyers will expire in a decade.

The boyfriend loophole banning partners convicted of domestic abuse from owning guns is only kind of closed. It’s not retroactive. And a first-time offender would regain access to firearms if they maintain a clean record for five years.

And while we celebrate this political progress on gun reform, the Supreme Court has expanded gun rights. In a 6-3 ruling Thursday, SCOTUS declared that New York violated the Second Amendment by requiring licenses — granted upon an applicant’s successful proof of need — to carry guns outside the home. Concealed carry just got a lot easier.

A half-century of abortion rights in America is undone, but you can have your guns and take them with you to the mall.

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“We are in a cold war and certainly a legislative war,” said Saida Grundy, a Boston University assistant professor of sociology, African-American studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies. “Abortion was a civil right that was granted constitutionally that’s now been rescinded.”

This war is not without violence. We saw it on Jan. 6, 2021. And we’ve always seen it, under the guise of Christianity and caring for the country and our children. These folk know no boundaries.

Eric Rudolph bombed the Atlanta Olympics, a queer nightclub, and abortion clinics. He did this as an antiabortion extremist. Other antiabortion radicals have killed clinicians and doctors who perform abortions.

That brutal tradition is now working its way into our policies. SCOTUS emboldens the criminalization of abortion and the punishment of those who provide and receive one. There is an “unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973,” SCOTUS writes in the overturning of Roe.

Texas was on it before the overturning of Roe. The state incentivizes residents to sue anyone they believe to be complicit in abortion, complete with a $10,000 award if they win in court. With this SCOTUS ruling, more zealotry will rise.

“The anti-choice movement has been highly violent,” Grundy says. “They are not interested in civil rights or ideological consistency. If women cannot make choices about their lives, the people in control can maintain an oligarchy.”

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There is nothing metaphorical about this war. The time to fight is now.

We are in a violent conflict between those who understand freedom as something to cultivate and protect and those who are obsessed with power, who worship guns as their god, and acknowledge zero boundaries between church and state.

Sitting this war out is not an option.

Give birth to a democracy and fight for freedom. Or die of forced labor and oppression.


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