We knew this was going to happen.
Of course, that doesn’t make it any less enraging or terrifying. If anything, it makes it more so.
Many of us were certain this day would come, long before the leak last month of Justice Samuel Alito’s chilling draft decision overturning Roe. We’ve been watching it all unfold for years, exactly according to the plan anti-choicers have been trumpeting, loudly and entirely in the open, for decades.
We knew it in 2016, knew that if Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump, the right’s years-long plan to take over the Supreme Court, led by the utter, shameless partisanship of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, would come to fruition, and we’d be exactly where we are today: Women will no longer have control over their own bodies in half of this benighted country. For millions of pregnant people, including victims of rape and incest, safe and legal abortion will now be an option only for those with the means to travel to a state that still — for now — provides that option. And now that Roe has fallen, decisions on other constitutional rights — including some big ones taken for granted by people who thought abortion was not their problem — will likely follow.
In a single week, this Supreme Court majority — this retrograde, opportunistic, political majority — has kicked over so many of this country’s moorings it’s hard to see how we keep standing: They blew through the separation of church and state, invalidated life-saving state gun safety laws, and now have overturned the constitutional right to an abortion with such force and argumentative sweep that contraception and same-sex marriage are now imperiled, too.
Again, it’s shocking, but it’s not surprising.
We. Knew. This. Was. Going. To. Happen.
What were all of those pro-choice voters thinking — especially the women — casting ballots for the orange menace who, with plenty of help from this court, tanked our democracy? Who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a woman, or that woman, because she was insufficiently progressive, or because of her e-mails, or her laugh, or whatever other deal breakers they conjured to make their betrayal seem less shameful? Who chose nativism, hatred, and white supremacy over their own interests? Who embraced his world-view because it felt simple, comforting, even entertaining?
You can all sit down today. As can the rest of you who thought Roe didn’t have anything to do with you.
And just in case you still think that, Justice Clarence Thomas would like nothing better than to disabuse you of that notion, ASAP.
Thomas, married to an actual insurrectionist but still somehow on the nation’s highest, and apparently untouchable, court, spelled it all out in his concurrence: Since Roe has been overturned, the court “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” he wrote.
Those cases allowed married couples to use contraceptives, held that states could not outlaw gay sex, and established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. The whole plan is right there, out in the open, like it always has been.
No pro-choice senator had any business confirming these judges, whose entire careers and public statements gave the lie to their testimony on Capitol Hill.
The name of Maine Senator Susan Collins — the Republican who built a career in part on her support for abortion rights — should forever live in infamy. She went to the mat for nominee Brett Kavanaugh, giving a fiery speech in which she professed her absolute certainty that he would not vote to overturn Roe. That speech, disingenuous then, or hopelessly gullible, is utterly disqualifying now. And West Virginia Democrat and filibuster fetishizer Joe Manchin can spare us his “alarm” over the fact that Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch broke his trust here. Ditto Lisa Murkowski, the pro-choice Alaska Republican who voted to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, whose record opposing abortion was the most blindingly obvious.
Not one more word on abortion, from any of them, ever. Unless that word is a “Yea” to abolish the filibuster and fix this.
We knew this was going to happen.
“We have been called chicken little for a long time,” said Rebecca Hart Holder, head of Reproductive Equity Now. “The sky really is falling. We weren’t making it up.”
As always, it is falling more heavily on some than on others: those who are poor, who have jobs and other obligations that make it impossible to travel, who don’t have access to information or services that could help them find care in a nearby state. Some of those women will face insupportable life options and some will die because of Friday’s decision.
And it is falling unevenly, in bits and pieces: Abortion will become illegal in 13 states now that the decision has come down. Thirteen more will follow in coming months. In some states, that means laws empowering any random citizen to take legal action against anyone who helps someone get an abortion.
And, if the zealots in the GOP have their way, the rest of the states will follow those. House minority leader Kevin McCarthy made that clear on Friday when he said “our work is far from done” when it comes to abortion. Former vice president Mike Pence celebrated the fact that Roe had been “consigned to the ash heap of history” and heralded the emergence of “a new arena in the cause of life:”
He went on: “We must not rest and must not relent until the sanctity of life is restored to the center of American law in every state in the land.”
You get that? They’re coming after abortion in blue states like ours, too. Bless the Massachusetts Legislature for enacting the ROE act strengthening protections in this state, and the governor for Friday’s executive order protecting Massachusetts providers who help out-of-state residents with abortions from being targeted by authorities in states that make such help illegal.
But in this America, no right that riles the right wing is truly safe any more. This is as much a cynical political strategy as a heartfelt position: For decades, the GOP used abortion to whip up support from voters who would otherwise have little reason to back them. Now that the dog has caught the car, they need to continue the fight or risk diminishing that fervor. That means pushing for federal legislation extending the reach of today’s ruling to the entire country, including Massachusetts.
How do we respond to this?
We do all the things we need to do today: Take to the streets to make our voices heard, donate to funds that help those who would not otherwise have access to abortion services, talk to those who still don’t quite get what is happening here and why it matters.
But none of that is going to solve the main problem here — and it’s the problem at the heart of almost all that ails this country right now.
Clearly, it doesn’t matter to the GOP that large majorities of Americans believe in a legal right to abortion. What we’re seeing here is the triumph of a small-minded minority. And they’re succeeding because they’ve broken our democracy — have been breaking it, for decades. They stacked courts not only with judges who oppose abortion, but who are also willing to take an ax to voting rights. They filled state legislatures with people more than happy to keep themselves in power by making it harder for likely Democratic voters to cast ballots. They sent leaders in Washington who — as the hearings of the Jan. 6 committee have made tragically, abundantly, clear — are willing to gut what remains of our electoral system. Which is to say, leaders who don’t actually believe in this country.
The only way to fix this is to vote against them, in November and beyond, and in numbers massive enough to overcome their attacks on our democracy.
Friday’s decision is but the latest chapter in this country’s most serious existential crisis since the Civil War era. When it comes to fixing it, it’s now or never.
We knew this was going to happen. And it’s going to keep happening.
Believe it now.