Art by Zeke Barbaro/Getty Images
The description of journalism as “the first draft of history” has perhaps never been so literally true as on Monday night, when Policy, of all people, broke the biggest scoop of the 21st century yet. DC’s insider tip sheet published a draft opinion from Justice Samuel Alito, apparently written in February, in which he and his four most conservative colleagues on the U.S. Supreme Court agree to completely overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that access to abortion care is protected by the US Constitution. The next day, Chief Justice John Roberts, who was not one of those five anti-choice votes, confirmed the document was genuine, but said SCOTUS had yet to make a final decision.
Any thought this might be old news – which we’ve known since at least late 2020, after Donald Trump appointed his third judge to the court, that deer was doomed – was belied by the speed and intensity of the reaction at the dawn of this unchosen and unwanted part of history. Two out of three Americans have never known a time when abortion was illegal, even though its availability has been steadily reduced in about half the country. Fewer than 1 in 5 Americans and even fewer Texans think abortion should be illegal under all circumstances, even though it’s been more or less the law here since last September. More than 2,500 abortions are performed every day in the United States, even as anti-choice Republicans plan to make abortion care illegal for everyone now that SCOTUS is out of the way.
All of these people – all of us, that is – are not going to change their minds about reproductive rights just because Samuel Alito feels that the protection of choice is not “rooted in history” enough. In just a few days, the contours of the new era have taken shape. In half the states (with more than half the population), abortion rights have already been codified, in some cases directly enshrined in state constitutions. These places are already preparing their new status as refuges and refuges. (Planned Parenthood affiliates in southern Illinois, closer to six different red states than Chicago, add capacity, for example.) People quickly learned that the majority of abortions performed in the United States involve drugs rather than surgery, and that these pills can be obtained online with minimal fuss, just like other banned pharmaceuticals (some are sold without a prescription in Mexico), and that reputable third-party sources exist for ensure their safety and effectiveness.
These things are clearly unalloyed products compared to the days before deer; even though many millions of Americans live in places that intend to deny their reproductive rights, they can still have abortions that are safe, effective, affordable, and only somewhat illegal. Again, no one changed their minds this week; the only question is how brazen we want to be to tell the bizarre Catholics on the Supreme Court and the bizarre evangelicals who have been running the anti-choice scam for decades, go fall down the drain. Those of us who have no problem being so brazen are going to have to step up our game on behalf of those who are afraid, for many understandable reasons, of putting their own needs first or causing conflict with the authorities. who have power over their future. Some people will need you to pay for their abortions, and you should. Some people will need you to ask your sister in Colorado to be on the lookout for a package to be delivered to you discreetly, and you should oblige. The best way for us to erase stupid jobs here in Texas, with its bounty hunter scheme, would be for thousands, millions of us to help and abet our friends’ abortions.
And of course, we should also vote for people who think the government should reflect what its constituents actually believe. We should help our friends in states with reversible Senate races this year — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina — to get new Democrats in power and push Joe Manchin into that same hole, so we can codify a federal right to abortion for at least a little while. We should remove the judges who lied under oath during their confirmation hearings and looked away while their spouses overturned the 2020 election. But we must not forget what we achieved this week: abortion is common. Abortion is normal. It’s okay, just like we’ve decided that cannabis is okay. It’s just part of our lives, and the right-wing creeps don’t have as much power to change that as they can take away from us.