Guest columnists Pelle Lowe and  Anne-Louise Smallen: The need for pro-democracy candidates

Published: 5/13/2022 4:01:51 PM
Modified: 5/13/2022 4:00:13 PM

If you’ve been paying attention, you knew this day was coming. A leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court confirms our worst fears — that an unelected, extremist Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, which has protected the right of pregnant Americans to have safe abortions for the last 50 years. A recent Gallup poll found that 80% of Americans support access to abortion in most or all cases.

The Supreme Court would move the power to make abortion laws to each state. Twelve states already have “trigger laws” that would immediately take effect once the Supreme Court decides to do away with Roe v. Wade. In some states, abortions would be legal only if the life of the mother is threatened — not even in cases of rape or if the pregnant person is a child.

People with money could still seek an abortion in another state where the law has not changed, but what about people in the South or Midwest where the nearest abortion clinic might be hundreds of miles away? If they seek illegal abortions they risk the dangers which faced women before Roe, or even could be tried for murder.

Losing Roe affects everyone, even those of us in blue states, but it particularly impacts low-income people and women of color. If it becomes law, this opinion would relegate women to becoming second-class citizens unable to decide for themselves how they live their lives. What’s next? Banning birth control? Canceling marriage equality? These are also in the cross-hairs of the extremists on this court appointed by the same Republican Party that is rolling back voting rights and taking over state houses across the country to subvert elections.

The Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify the right to abortion into law, can’t pass the Senate because of the filibuster, a pernicious, racist tool implemented by Confederates to roll back rights advanced during and after Reconstruction. The Freedom to Vote and The John Lewis Voting Rights Acts couldn’t pass because of this unconstitutional rule.

Indivisible and other groups have been working to break the logjam in the Senate by ending the filibuster, so it’s essential to call out senators who seek to preserve it. We need court reform to expand the Supreme Court through the Judiciary Act, but again the filibuster stands in the way.

Let’s not despair, but let’s act. If we care about preserving democracy and our constitutional rights, we must begin the work of electing pro-choice and pro-democracy people now. The November midterms are coming.

Pelle Lowe and Anne-Louise Smallen live in Northampton.

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