Abortion Rights under Threat in the US: Returning the Backlash

When our hard-won rights are called into question, we must resist and remember that women must never take anything for granted.

They will never leave women alone. The Supreme Court of the United States is ready to overturn a landmark ruling that has recognized, for nearly half a century, the right to an abortion. The leaked draft opinion should be taken seriously. It is hard to imagine it not being finalized by a court with a clear conservative majority following its restructuring under Donald Trump.

A woman’s fundamental right to terminate a pregnancy in a country that claims to be “free” will thus be called into question. Women will be subjected to the discretion of the state where they live — and half of those states are ready to declare war on abortion, nothing less. Simone de Beauvoir warned us, “Never forget that a political, economic or religious crisis is all it will take for women’s rights to be called into question. These rights can never be taken for granted. You must remain vigilant throughout your life.” Americans suggest it is a backlash. Every advance in women’s rights has been followed by a reactionary offensive, as feminist journalist Susan Faludi showed in a 1991 essay that is still relevant.

Feminists have been expecting a backlash since #MeToo in 2017. Here it is. But can’t we return the backlash? Resilience or resistance? Which do we prefer? We will have to defend our rights at the polls. Joe Biden has called for us to do it, beginning with November’s midterms. We must defend our rights in the streets. On the evening of May 2, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the temple of American law, clashing with anti-abortion protesters. We will have to defend the protesters along with organizations whose importance stands out in the face of current realities. Restoring this balance of power is imperative in the United States, and also in Europe — where currently, Ukrainian women who have been raped are unable to access abortions in Poland — but also elsewhere, everywhere.

They will never leave women alone, but we will never go back without a fight.

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