This Sunday, Jan. 22, when we should have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the landmark ruling, Roe v. Wade, must now become a national day of outcry. Wherever you are, please join the National Women’s Marches being organized across the country to protest the overturning of the constitutional right to abortion in the United States.
As we know all too well, on June 24 the conservative Catholic, ultraextremist majority on the U.S. Supreme Court did the unthinkable and overturned federal abortion rights in a nation where nearly one in four women will need and choose abortion.
The danger with an attack on individual rights of this magnitude is that people become inured or hopeless — especially if they live in anti-abortion states, or just get tired of showing up after decades of demonstrations.
Don’t forget how egregious the Dobbs decision overturning Roe is. Justice Samuel Alito cited as precedent for his ruling the views of a 17th-century British jurist, Lord Matthew Hale, known for influencing common-law denial of the crime of marital rape, and for sentencing three women to hang as “witches.” In a speech last year in Rome following his cruel decision, the noticeably smug and self-congratulatory Alito showed that his allegiance is clearly more with the Vatican than with the secular U.S. Constitution.
The Dobbs decision has turned a human right into a political football. It has launched legislative hand-to-hand, state-by-state combat. Already, at least 13 states fully ban abortion — including almost the entire swath of the South — with several others having lesser bans. And courts are blocking bans in eight other states.
While the American public’s support for abortion rights has been solid and several major state referenda have gloriously thwarted the anti-abortion agenda, the anti-abortion movement is reaping the fruits of years of buying political support in its quest to capture the federal judiciary. The anti-abortion movement is also benefiting from malicious political work to gerrymander states and suppress voter turnout.
In the past six months since the Dobbs ruling upended society, we are witnessing growing fanaticism by anti-abortion politicians and leadership, and increasingly wild legislation being contemplated or filed. These include a Handmaid Tale-esque version of the Fugitive Slave Act to thwart or punish those who help women seeking out-of-state abortion care. “Abortion abolitionists” seek to abolish all abortion care in the United States.
Bizarrely, we are even seeing the comeback of the Comstock Act! This 1873 federal law, the baby of Christian fanatic Anthony Comstock, deputized him to personally prosecute anyone who sent through the mail “obscene” publications, contraceptives (dubbed “indecent articles”) or abortifacients. Its application to birth control was supposedly put to merciful rest when Margaret Sanger, a victim of the act, took to the courts and won her challenge, United States v. One Package, in 1933. Now the Comstock Act is seriously being resurrected by the anti-abortion movement in its crusade to prevent mailing of abortion pills. These zealous, latter-day Comstockians, reveal how clearly the anti-abortion movement is a religious crusade.
So get out and march Sunday. If you can’t make it or a march isn’t happening near you, then get and stay involved in other meaningful ways. There is no other endangered right today in America as fundamental to true liberty and bodily autonomy as the right to decide if and whether to be pregnant, if or whether to become a mother or parent.
“This is not over,” as the National Women’s March promises.