When I saw the leaked draft opinion from Justice Samuel Alito, concerning the overturning of Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey, on 2 May 2022, I was stunned, but not surprised. After all, my last post on this blog, just 2 weeks before was on the topic of Bodily Autonomy. Readers here know that I have always been pro-choice and I am consistently grappling with those who are not. Pro-choice seems like a pretty obvious way to be as it accounts for the life of the pregnant person first and foremost.
I am greatly disheartened by the trigger laws in individual states across the country, including my current (Tennessee) and former (Alabama) states of residence. In Let’s Talk About Tennessee’s Trigger Law, the Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood blog does a great job discussing these trigger laws in general, as well as what could happen in Tennessee specifically if Roe and Casey are officially overturned. The Human Life Protection Act will set the state of reproductive justice in Tennessee, along with 12 other states that have similar laws lined up, back 50, but what feels more like 150, years.
As a person having lived the better part of 40 years in Western New York, I have resources that will allow me to visit the state if I ever need access to abortion care. But, unfortunately, I am among the few with this privilege. Many people who will need this healthcare do not have a direct resource in a state with legalized abortion. With the passage of the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), in January 2019, the NYS legislature “legalized all abortions up to 24 weeks of gestation.” (wikipedia.org) This also decriminalized abortions in the state as prior to the act’s passage, abortion was “included as part of the penal law under homicide, and could be charged as a criminal offense.” (wikipedia.org)
The Tennessee trigger law will do the opposite of what the NYS RHA did, by making “abortion not only illegal but also a felony.” (plannedparenthoodaction.org) This, as I stated above, will set the United States back in our struggle for reproductive justice, but we cannot give up. The people who fought for the initial right to choose and who won this right with Roe had to sacrifice a lot for the cause. We cannot let them nor the future of reproductive justice down by being complacent. We must stay informed and keep up the fight!
So, after my initial shock over the leak wore off, my next step was to get more information. My first love, after all, is research. It helps me to work through all of the emotions and channel them into action. This led me over to SCOTUSblog (an excellent source for all things US Supreme Court) for more information. In the weeks since the leaked opinion, SCOTUSblog has been tracking all the news on the leak, along with movement on the case itself, here: Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization and I strongly suggest perusing that archive. Knowledge leads to action, action leads to movement, and movements can change the world!