The news broke in the middle of the evening, as Americans were enjoying the outfits at the Met Gala in New York. The display of extravagant dresses that symbolize lightheartedness at its best, the type that attracts all the attention, a bit like the Super Bowl, was interrupted by a strike aimed at the very heart of this insouciance. We learned that the United States Supreme Court, filled by Donald Trump’s appointees, was getting ready to strike down Roe v. Wade, the decision that protects the right of American women to have an abortion.
The scoop came from Politico, which published a draft of the decision.
“SCOTUS isn’t just coming for abortion — they’re coming for the right to privacy Roe rests on, which includes gay marriage + civil rights,” tweeted Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, immediately. “Congress must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country NOW,” added Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders. “Not surprising. But still outrageous,” said former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. “This decision is a direct assault on the dignity, rights, & lives of women, not to mention decades of settled law. It will kill and subjugate women even as a vast majority of Americans think abortion should be legal. What an utter disgrace.”
The decision the court is preparing to render is not a surprise.
Trump did everything he could during his presidency to appoint justices who were clearly opposed to abortion rights. The alliance with the American religious extreme right was at the heart of Trump’s electoral strategy. He delivered what he promised.
And that’s where we are today.
The Supreme Court decision will come in response to a lawsuit against the state of Mississippi, which intends to make abortions illegal after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Currently no state can do this. The highest court will give them a green light to do so.
The next step is up to elected officials, to Congress, to those who want to protect fundamental rights guaranteed by the landmark decision handed down on Jan. 22, 1973, which protected American women’s access to this medical procedure.
The next step is in the hands of all those who want women to have access to this professionally provided option, if they so choose.
Because, as several people pointed out Monday evening, we are not talking here about a decision that will stop abortions. There will always be abortions because there will always be women who want to decide what to do with their own bodies.
We are talking about a decision that, if not challenged by federal law, will allow states to ban abortions carried out in safe conditions, where the health, the life of women is genuinely protected.
Should we be concerned about this decision here in Canada, where that freedom has been guaranteed since the Morgentaler Decision in 1988?
We should be concerned about this decision and the overall assault on progressivism and democracy that is at stake in the United States because it contaminates us here, too. Because these ideas are gaining traction here at home. They become normal even on this side of the border. We saw it with the recent demonstrations in Ottawa. We have never have seen such extremism before in a country where social consensus is practically part of our DNA. Or at least, it would not have created the violent upheaval that good public involvement and good, open and democratic conversation could not moderate.
Trump’s tenure as president helped normalize and trivialize extremist positions that undermine social consensus, drive people away from each other, polarize all debate, and fracture the foundations on which we stand that allow us to live in peace, with space for each of us to move forward at one’ own pace.
And those who support this anti-abortion movement aren’t just opposed to this type of choice. They are against many of the social measures put in place over decades affecting equality for all, inclusion for all. Marriage between same-sex couples, measures against discrimination, policies in favor of equality. All progressive policies that we hold dear in Canada, that we must protect now more than ever.
Because what’s at stake is not just the freedom of women regarding their bodies. It’s freedom, period.