Op-ed by Ella Pieterse
This news is heartbreaking! We heard the newly appointed justices maintain their allegiance to the precedent of Roe in their Supreme Court hearings, but we knew better than to believe them. We heard them seek vengeance against those who leaked their “unofficial” court document to repeal Roe v. Wade. We know this is not the end.
We had time to prepare ourselves for this tragedy. Still, I cannot shake my mourning. I am privileged to live in a state where at the moment, my autonomy is protected. Others are not so lucky. There are women in 13 states whose right to bodily autonomy has been immediately revoked through trigger laws; their state governments began drafting the minute the supreme court turned in their favor. 13 more states are expected to enact similar legislation in the weeks coming.
I am horrified by what this means for our citizens. I know that minorities and those living in poverty will be disproportionately affected by this ban. They will not have the means to travel to other states where they can legally get their healthcare. Women who are forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term are forced to abandon their education and their careers, forced to sacrifice their bodies for unwanted pregnancy, and forced into poverty.
This is the American reality. This is the true American Dream, made possible only through disenfranchisement and the control of our most vulnerable people. The states passing illegitimate abortion bans are the same ones that have made clear their efforts to restrict voting access for the people who need the most help. These states have created a system where the voices that matter are those of the already privileged: predominantly rich white men. Simultaneously, white women are playing a significant role in stripping their own rights away for the sake of the ‘unborn.’
The unborn is the perfect victim for the white republican. Once a fetus exits the womb, Republicans have no incentive to provide for the human. The unborn do not have a voice: the unborn cannot voice any demands. The unborn do not ask for healthcare, and the unborn do not ask for food stamps. The unborn have no demands. It is no coincidence that republican led states consistently rank the lowest in overall child well-being (the Annie E. Casey Foundation)– Republicans do not care about life. They care about control.
I hold disdain for the people who vote these people into office, but I must take a step back (partially for my own sanity). When you are told your whole life that life begins at conception, how are you supposed to abandon what is ingrained in your psyche to support the enemy? The republican party is funded and controlled by the top 1%, whereas these 1% control the narrative.
Fox News Commentator, Tucker Carlson frames himself as a working class citizen who is not too different than you and me, but he earns $35 million yearly. He speaks of “regular-people” issues like he isn’t that different from us but he feeds disinformation (to them) under the guise of fact. They are groomed to vote for people who routinely strip away their benefits. As we know, plenty of poor whites not only voted for Donald Trump but also stormed the Capital on January 6th and attempted to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power (Spoiler alert: Trump made life harder for people living in poverty).
I would prefer to think this is not a failure of their morals but rather a failure of the United States education system: the only reason our education could so painfully fail is through a calculated plan to breed ignorance and intolerance within the nation. It is easy for bad people to stay in power when their voting base is too stupid to notice that the platform of their political party is empty.
I cannot shake a feeling of terror. I am terrified for the women who will die. In some states, if a woman has an ectopic pregnancy, she, or her doctor, will have to hire a lawyer in case the state chooses to try them for murder. This is already happening. Women will have extended delays in receiving life-saving healthcare for the sake of the fear of being imprisoned for a miscarriage. I am terrified for the women who will be forced to carry their rapists’ fetus. I am terrified for the women who will be forced to carry their own father’s fetus. I am terrified for the women who are simply not ready for a child or do not want a child but are forced to sacrifice the rest of their lives and bodies for a child they do not want. I am terrified of the anticipated influx of children in our overcrowded, underfunded, and broken foster system. I am terrified for the children who will live their lives unloved with parents who do not want them. I am terrified of the poverty women will be forced into as they sacrifice their education and funds to support a child they are forced to provide for. I am terrified of the likelihood of a federal abortion ban. I am terrified for the future as I know this is not the end of their crusade.
I do not have the answers. I know significant change must be made, but voting has proved inadequate. I do not have the answers. The United States government, since its conception, has never represented the actual American population. For the first 246 years of United States history, the economy was entirely reliant on slave labor. Our system still operates under legal slave labor through a loophole in the 13th amendment, turning prisoners into effective slaves. And I do not know how to change that. I do not have the answers. Contraception, same-sex relationships, and marriage equality are next. Our Congress, and our White house, have made it abundantly clear they can mope and cry about the Supreme Court and yet pass no measure to change what has been done. I do not have the answers. I know we cannot accept the learned helplessness embedded in the most powerful of the democratic party. I know I do not have the answers, but not having the answers does not mean we have to give up. We cannot give up. The United States is quickly approaching an impasse; if we are not at it already, it is up to us to decide whether we will lay down and accept that our government is turning into an authoritarian state.
All I know is that we cannot shut up. This influx of hateful policy and rhetoric is a backlash to the progress that has been made. We cannot shut up. Republican party leaders will try their best to stop us by banning the mention of LGBTQ+ relationships to lord knows what else they will try in the future. We cannot shut up. We will not shut up. Take to the streets. Fight tooth and nail for your rights, or else we will only have more taken away from us. We cannot give up. That is the only thing I know with certainty.
Ella Pieterse is a student at Binghamton University studying Politics, Philosophy and Law. She grew up in a very political household and considers politics to be very important in her life and everyone’s lives, whether they would like to admit it or not.
“I am not sure yet where I would like to go in my future, but I am seriously considering becoming involved in the political scene in Albany and potentially going down the path of being a justice. I like to think that my interest and advocacy in politics stems from my empathy for humans and my hope that one day, our nation will justly represent everyone who is subject to the law. The state of our world and our government is very scary, but I remain optimistic for the future we will mold.”