Last Friday, the United States Supreme Court reversed its 1973 ruling on Roe v. Wade, effectively ending constitutional protection of the right to an abortion, leaving the issue up to the discretion of individual states. Already, nearly half the states have passed so-called “trigger” laws banning abortion or will do so soon, with others tightening restrictions on the procedure.
Thus, it’s a terrifying time to be American. Bodily autonomy in the U.S. has always been in jeopardy, and the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe – less than 50 years after its initial passing – must be condemned and viewed as a deplorable legal decision.
Interestingly, for many Americans – particularly young, upper-middle class white Americans – this is the first time the government is not explicitly protecting them, nor following the interests of majority rule. And America in 2022 is a scary reality to be abruptly awakened to.
The realization that ideals and practices vital to democracy such as voting or volunteering and donating to nonprofits won’t be enough is staring more people than ever in the face. The reality that our social and political landscape is dominated by rich, right-wing and predominantly male individuals that care about their own interests before those of the people is petrifying – not to mention recognition that the Democratic Party won’t be enough to save us.
Where we go from here is crucial to protecting the rights of American citizens. This is not just a war on women – the rights of nonbinary and transgender individuals are also being threatened. There are dangers attached to referring to the Roe decision or abortion as women’s issues. It’s not just about women, nor is it just about abortion. The Roe ruling opens the door to further violations of human rights that extend beyond the scope of reproductive justice. For instance, Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion pushes for the reevaluation of previous decisions related to contraception and same-sex marriage.
The contemporary fetishization of protest culture – which especially plagues younger voters – is doing more harm than good. Simply put, catchy slogans on a sign can be exclusive and further harmful toward marginalized communities. We must question the efficacy of protests as a form of activism as a whole. Rather, we should shift our focus to community and grassroots organizations that can tangibly secure reproductive justice for all marginalized groups affected by the Roe decision. And in doing so, maintain the self as well. The weight of a broken system rests on all of us collectively, never on any one person’s shoulders.
As for Connecticut residents, abortion has been codified into the state constitution, meaning abortion will remain protected for the forseable future. However, this does not ensure long-term safety. This decision is a reminder that the upcoming midterms elections – as well as the 2024 presidential election – will decide the fate of abortion in the U.S. A win for the Republican Party in 2024, alongside a Senate majority, means abortion could be federally criminalized. In short, abortion access in Connecticut should not be taken for granted moving forward.
Furthermore, leaving abortion access up to states means that one’s bodily autonomy will be dependent on their zip code. Connecticut is preparing for “abortion refugees” from surrounding states through the expansion of abortion services and a safe harbor law, effective July 1. We must urge other states to do the same.
Additionally, the University of Connecticut is home to many students from states where access to abortion services are being stripped away; they are our community as well. We should care about protecting them. UConn should support initiatives with the sexual health of their students in mind. Their providing of students with emergency contraception free of charge and Sexperts program create a decent starting point, but the university can do more. Offer courses on reproductive justice; educate your students.
The UConn student body – along with the rest of America – must take immediate action. Donate to organizations working to protect abortion rights, support abortion and bail funds, get involved at the grassroots level and use your voice to speak out. At UConn, this might look like joining student organizations like Planned Parenthood Generation Action, protesting against local pro-life organizations, or encouraging other groups to commit to defending abortion. Most importantly, take a second to think about what this really says about our country. Internalize the fact that it doesn’t have to be this way – we don’t have to live in a country where bodily autonomy is threatened by a government that doesn’t serve its people.