If we pay attention to those whose lives have already been destroyed by an inability to access abortion, we can see our collective future and the depths the challenges to come. Centering the voices of those who have struggled to get care—even as we recognize the implications of Dobbs on everyone—allows us to predict at least three immediate consequences of last week’s decision.
On Friday, June 24, the United States Supreme Court ended constitutional protections for the right to abortion.
The sweeping decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturns Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey and leaves legal protections at risk for contraception, same-sex marriage and IVF. The decision has allowed abortion bans to go into effect in 18 states.
Anouk Yeh, Santa Clara County’s 2021-2022 inaugural youth poet laureate, is proud of the megaphone she’s given to incarcerated youth through weekly poetry workshops on Zoom.
In a grim moment nationally, let us look to Latin America for the sustained will to resist and overturn abortion bans.
Most notably, U.S. reproductive rights organizers should think of legal and cultural campaigns that can move across states. Though combatting abortion bans in the U.S. will be difficult because states exert their own jurisdiction over abortion laws, we can create a national movement and anticipate the challenges ahead through learning from Latin American feminists, especially the resilient people of El Salvador since 1998.
Anti-abortion governments and private entities are already using cutting-edge digital technologies to surveil women’s search history, location data, messages, online purchases and social media activities by using geofencing, keyword warrants, big data and more.
“Every aspect of pregnant people’s digital lives will be put under the microscope, examined for any hints that they sought (successfully or otherwise) to end their pregnancy.”
Hostile state or federal laws that ban or restrict abortion and criminalize pregnancy outcomes could have yet another devastating impact: threatening eligibility for legal immigration status and undermining efforts to create more equitable and humane immigration laws.
The politics of immigration and the politics of choice will continue to collide as extreme lawmakers cynically trade the reproductive health of immigrant and non-citizen women for political gain.
Melissa Lucio, who was set to be executed for the death of her 2-year old daughter Mariah, was granted a stay of execution and a new hearing on Monday by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The court ordered a new hearing to consider whether her conviction was based on an unreliable false confession which Lucio, a victim of sexual abuse and domestic violence, offered in response to threatening, hostile questioning by investigators.
“The court’s decision paves the way for Melissa to present evidence of her innocence that should have been heard by the jury that condemned her to death 14 years ago,” said Professor Sandra Babcock, director of the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide and one of Lucio’s attorneys.
The state of Texas plans to put Melissa Lucio to death by lethal injection on Wednesday, April 27, which would make her the sixth woman executed in the U.S. in the last decade and the first Hispanic woman in Texas history.
But new evidence of Lucio’s interrogation reveals how unlikely it is that she is guilty—which is why a bipartisan group of Texas state lawmakers is asking authorities to reconsider the scheduled execution. They join hundreds of other Texans—including 225 anti-domestic violence groups, 130 faith leaders and 30 Latino organizations—in urging the Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Abbott to grant Lucio a reprieve.
On Thursday, April 7, Texas police in the Rio Grande Valley arrested a Lizelle Herrera and charged her with murder for allegedly self-inducing an abortion last January. When community activists heard about Herrera’s arrest on Friday afternoon, they immediately began organizing to support her.
Few details have emerged about what happened leading up to the arrest of 26-year-old Lizelle Herrera. But the criminalization of pregnant women has a long history in Texas.
“Prosecutors who bring cases like this are trying to groom people in the United States to think of those who have abortions as criminals,” said Lynn Paltrow, executive director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women. “That stigma, eventually, is likely to stick and results in efforts to throw them in jail.”