The Overturn of Roe Is a Social War

Abortion rights activists react after the announcement to the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24, 2022 in Washington, D.C. (Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images)

Good morning, America! Politics matters.

Those of you who have been asleep at the wheel woke up last week to find out that the car has driven off the road.

Five right-wing Supreme Court justices, the day after they said it was perfectly okay for U.S. citizens to roam the streets concealing their guns, have now decided that legal precedent no longer matters.

In overturning Roe v. Wade, they have signaled that this is not a legal fight anymore but a social war. They are now poised to go after birth control, gay rights, sodomy laws and who knows what else. The social fabric of the world is their oyster and they are sitting at a decidedly right-wing set seafood buffet.

Make no mistake, this decision is not good for anyone in the United States. Not even if you are a male. Not even if you are a wealthy woman living in an abortion restricted state. This decision will tie the hands of gynecologists about how to treat typical women’s medical issues, like miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies. In states like Texas, men and women will be prosecuted if they are suspected of helping a woman get an abortion, even if they go out of state to do it. 

Already in Texas, a state ahead of the curve in its desire to be behind the curve of medical and social progress, doctors hesitate about performing needed medical help to women who have miscarriages out of fear that they will be accused of helping perform an abortion. What if it wasn’t a true miscarriage? What if the woman self-induced? In that state, as doctors hesitate to perform necessary medical intervention for miscarriages, pharmacies are also not filling prescriptions for drugs often prescribed after miscarriages, out of fear that the pharmacists themselves will be accused of abetting abortion.

A Boston doctor recently wrote of her own experience with a miscarriage. Her life was saved because the hospital she was rushed to acted quickly. But she couldn’t help but wonder—what if this had happened in a state like Texas, where being accused of helping a woman in medical need can lead to legal jeopardy? Would her life have been saved?

Good morning, America. Republicans have already told us that if they take control of Congress in the fall—which, unless there is a broad public outcry, they certainly could—one of their first orders of business will be to pass a law making abortion illegal throughout the country. There will be no safe state for a woman.

The consequences of this Supreme Court decision—orchestrated by Donald Trump and two of his illegitimately placed justices—will shake the world for women and for families in this country for decades to come, in intended and unintended ways.

For example, imagine an employer, in an abortion-illegal state, interviewing potential employees for a fast food business or any business with low-income employees. Imagine for that job opening, there are both male and female candidates of childbearing age. Why wouldn’t the employer favor the male candidate at this point? The employer knows that the woman can no longer control her fertility. Why would an employer hire the woman, knowing she is such an employment risk? These decisions may never be spoken aloud, but they will be contemplated—they are already being contemplated, logically, in states like Texas.

It’s no longer safe to be a woman in those states. Whether you’re looking for a job or you’re looking for simple healthcare you are now a person with a target on your back—by virtue of being able to reproduce. The only way to reverse today’s decision? A pro-abortion majority Congress, dedicated to passing legislation that enables women and their doctors to make personal health decisions on their own, without state interference.

Good morning, America. The car in the ditch is already on fire. The question is, will it explode? Politics matters.

Sign and share Ms.’s relaunched “We Have Had Abortions” petition—whether you yourself have had an abortion, or simply stand in solidarity with those who have—to let the Supreme Court, Congress and the White House know: We will not give up the right to safe, legal, accessible abortion.

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Linda Burstyn is a TV drama writer, a political journalist and a feminist activist.