Punk Writes

Fallout: Roe v Wade, One Month Deceased

Oi, so, I originally started working on this in the first few days after the decision came out. Then the Big Sad TM reared its head again and I lost all motivation for finishing this. Then I said "I'll just wait for it to be a month". Then I was like, let's see how the Kansas vote goes. Finally, here we are. So, there will be the original bit, and then updates of the early ramifications. Thanks to whoever reads this, hope you enjoy my sass!


How We Got Here, In Brief


June 24th, 2022. Seven years, nearly to the day, since the Supreme Court (henceforth referred to as SCOTUS, or "those self-important assholes" for the conservative justices in particular) handed down their decision in Obergefell v Hodges, declaring same-sex marriage the law of the land. This was the high point for the Court in my lifetime. Seven years, two deaths, and three new justices later, we have a different Court. If you want to blame any one man (for it's nearly always men), go protest at Mitch McConnell's house. (Seriously, Dems of Kentucky, get him out however you can).

When Antonin Scalia died, the day before Valentine's Day 2016, I was happy. This should have meant Obama would get a final SCOTUS appointment. He nominated Merrick Garland, our current Attorney General. Having been an election year, Darth Vader, er sorry, Mitch McConnell decided he had to let the people vote before a new justice could be added. Which is nonsense, appointments have happened in election years in the past. Anyway, that's how Neil Gorsuch got his seat. Gorsuch assured worried senators that Roe was settled law. Court balance still at 5-4 conservative, with "swing" justice Anthony Kennedy still there.

Enter 2018. Anthony Kennedy decides he doesn't want to pull a Scalia and actually have some time to enjoy his senior years. Cue frat bro Brett Kavanaugh, who taught all of us what "boofing" is. He also promised that Roe was settled law, so Susan Collins and everyone's least favorite Democrat, Joe Manchin, believed him. Yes, they believed a man who most definitely assaulted a woman in college and lied to the US Senate about it. However, he was replacing Kennedy, so the ideological balance of the court was still nominally 5-4.

Then, just WEEKS before the 2020 presidential election, RBG died. My immediate response was a preemptive "fuck you, Mitch McConnell", because we all knew what he was going to do, and do it he did. Suddenly the people needing to vote didn't matter one bit! Not when his man was set to lose! (and there's still people waiting for the election to be overturned...seriously). So we got Amy Coney Barrett, a devout Catholic who was also a member of People of Praise, where she, yes really, held the title of 'handmaid'. The conservatives now had the outright majority, with the most sane of them now being Chief Justice John Roberts. The assault on abortion began in earnest.


Analysis of the Bullshit


So that's how we arrive this moment, with the official overturn of Roe v Wade. I read the leaked draft decision last month, and I've heard the official decision varies little, so I'm not dragging myself through that again. Then I went and read the original decision of Roe, and the case that reaffirmed it, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v Casey. Before we get into my definitely sarcastic and not high-minded takes, if you would like a more measured understanding of the main opinion, here's an annotated version from professionals. Originally, I was going to compare and contrast the decisions, for it's always fascinating to see opposite conclusions reached from the same factual information. In brief, they both go into historical detail on abortion laws in antiquity, medieval, and then modern times. Historically, "the quickening" (fetal movement) was the point where a pregnancy was definitely confirmed, and where the fetus was considered to be a separate life (one with a soul, if you believe in souls). This occurs around 16-20 weeks into pregnancy, so, before the earliest point of viability, but after the first trimester.

Second trimester abortions are generally subject to more restrictions and most be done as a surgical procedure. So abortions after this point were not allowed under English common law, and thus carried into the colonies, and later, the new country we're still trying to run. Throughout the 1800s, states began enacting abortion bans, though it's curious to see what parts are emphasized in Appendix A of the main opinion. Many of the laws focus first on the intent being to harm the pregnant mother, with the fetus considered second. If the woman dies as a result of the abortion, the punishments are harsher. Some laws specify if the procedure is only done to "quick child", many allow for abortion to preserve the life of the other. Are these the parts emphasized? Of course not. They've only emphasized that it was illegal to cause an abortion, not wanting to point out all the exceptions. The way this history is viewed in the original opinion is to point out that the criminalizing of abortion is a relatively recent statutory development, and thus not deeply held beliefs that are integral to the national fabric of the United States.

Anyway, if you ask Justice Alito (for whom I apologize, on behalf of New Jersey, we do not claim him), because abortion was illegal when the 14th amendment was passed, it must still be illegal today. Just like how it's illegal for me to vote. Or illegal for Justice Thomas to be married to his wife. Or illegal for women to use birth control. Right? That's how that logic works. These self-important assholes will argue that abortion is different, though, because of the whole fetus thing. It's not, though. A fetus does not have rights. A fetus is not a person. A fetus does not have brain function. Fetal heartbeats do not exist at six weeks. Besides, Thomas doesn't seem sold on the idea that those cases shouldn't be challenged and overturned. Honestly, fuck anyone who ascribes to originalism. The Constitution was written almost 250 years ago by white men who fucking owned other human beings as property. I don't give a damn about what they might have intended. It's a document we can amend for a reason. Also, fun fact, Thomas Jefferson thought 19 years was a good amount of time for a constitution to be valid.

On boofing frat bro's concurring opinion, he's flat out wrong. To adopt a neutral position on abortion by throwing it back to the states is to adopt a position against abortion. It's like the quote, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." The true neutral position would have been reaffirming Roe. By sending it back to the states, people seeking abortions will now be hundreds of miles away from the closest clinic (as was already the case in many areas already). This will disproportionately impact low income people and people of color. Black women already have worse maternal health outcomes than white women do, this is just exacerbating existing inequalities.


One Month On


In the now month since this decision has been handed down, millions of people have already lost access to abortion. There was a single abortion clinic in Alabama that drew patients from all over the southern US. Women were in the waiting room when they were told the procedure was now illegal. There was chaos over access to Plan B due to ambiguously written laws. Some anti-abortion activists are figuring out how to prevent women from crossing state lines to access abortion. North Dakota's only clinic sued at the start of July over their abortion ban. Mississippi's only clinic, the one whose case led to this whole clusterfuck, closed. A 10-year-old sexual assault victim had to cross state lines from Ohio to Indiana for her procedure, and now Indiana wants to amend their law to only allow exceptions for rape, incest, and that nebulous "life of the mother" nonsense.

I say it's nonsense because how much risk does the life of the pregnant person have to be under before the abortion is allowed? Women with ectopic pregnancies have already seen dangerous delays in treatment. What if being pregnant means you can't take your mental health medication and may be at increased risk for suicide? That's a choice mentally ill people have to make when deciding to become a parent. A choice that should never be taken away. What if you develop preeclampsia, which can be life-threatening? There's so many things those self-important assholes just did not consider, perhaps because four of the five don't even have a uterus.

Fetal personhood is on the agenda again. A woman in Texas, presumably to call Republicans on their bullshit, got a ticket for driving alone in the HOV lane and immediately claimed her fetus meant there were two people. While funny, and probably not an effective legal strategy, this is a dangerous idea. Georgia, now with a six-week abortion ban, says that fetuses are people for state tax purposes. Women are having difficulty filling prescriptions because the medication can also be used to end a pregnancy.

Why is fetal personhood a terrible idea? Pregnant people are already under so much scrutiny. If a baby tests positive for any illegal drugs upon birth, there is an immediate investigation and it's likely the baby won't be going home with the mother. Now, what if a pregnant woman tests positive for illegal drugs? What if she didn't know she was pregnant? Hell, what if a woman is drinking while unknowingly pregnant? If fetuses are people, these women could be prosecuted for child abuse or murder, if the pregnancy aborts and drug use is determined to be even a contributing factor. It's already a crime to perform an abortion against someone's wishes, and pregnant women who are murdered have led to two murder charges, depending on state laws.

But if something at 6-weeks gestation is a full legal person, then: people can't take life-saving medication, fathers should pay child support, people will be charged for spontaneous abortions (which account for about 25% of all pregnancies and 10% of known ones), and likely a host of things we can't even comprehend. All of this adds up to any potentially pregnant person (so 50% of the population) being seen not as a person, but an incubator. A fetus cannot attain personhood without a pregnant person losing theirs. Thankfully, a federal judge in Arizona blocked their fetal personhood law last month.

Now, it hasn't all been doom and gloom. Biden did sign an executive order protecting abortion access as much as the federal government currently can. Kansas just voted on a referendum to keep abortion access in the state constitution, and the Justice Department is suing Idaho over their almost-no-exception ban.


I'm Angry and Want to Help


Now that we've had a month to process this cataclysmic shift in the legal landscape, we can calm down from our knee jerk reactions and work on effective organizing. First off, if you live in an abortion safe state, please stop offering to help people go "camping" by hosting them directly. I am guilty of this one as well. It's well-meaning, but it's also reckless. Here's a Twitter thread that goes into more detail, but in short, there's existing networks that know how to protect vulnerable people, and posting on Facebook under your legal name is not the way to do it. There's already an "abortion underground", not just for managing access to care from providers, but for entirely self-managed abortions. I'm not saying if you click that link, there might be information about how to make an at-home abortion device with items you can find at a hardware store, but I'm also not saying it doesn't. If you want to get involved by spreading information on alternatives, sign up to be an ambassador for Plan C (though I've personally tried three times and never get a response). If you do decide to help people access abortion care directly, be aware you could be risking your freedom.

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