On Friday, June 24, 2022, many people like myself woke up to a country in distress, and with disbelief, scanned the headline donned on every top news site – “Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.”
When I first read the stories, the full weight and impact of this decision didn’t hit me. However, as the day went on, I began to reflect on what this meant for me, my sister, my friends, my colleagues, and so many other women in the United States. As a woman, and a minority woman at that, it often feels like my rights are never black or white. There is always room for dismissal, always room for a change to be made, always room for someone else to decide what is best for me.
The idea that a constitutional right is no longer mine, or any other woman’s to have, is a tumultuous thought. I am concerned not only for myself, but for the women across the US impacted by this decision and all over the world distraught by the news who are carrying a heavier weight than myself. I empathize with the women who are now forced to carry to term a pregnancy that they cannot, or do not want to, rightfully and safely, bring into this world. I empathize with the women who are not yet pregnant but fear knowing that the choice is no longer theirs, regardless of what they would choose.
According to the CDC, about 700 people die during pregnancy in the U.S. or in the year after.
Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women. “Another 50,000 people each year have unexpected outcomes of labor and delivery with serious short- or long-term health consequences,” the CDC reports. Not to mention that there are women all over the country without access to proper health care, or access to the resources they need to carry a pregnancy to term. Almost 30% of women of reproductive age don’t have access to insurance for maternity care, and over half of those don’t have insurance at all.
The Dobbs v. Jackson ruling is not only demoralizing, but dangerous. As a woman, as an individual, it’s scary to think about the fact that I no longer have a choice about decisions that impact my body – that I can’t even decide what is safe for myself and what is the right choice for my family and my future family to come.
I’m thankful to be surrounded by individuals who encourage my and other’s power of choice and who believe in bodily autonomy – but at the same time I have to acknowledge that this is not the reality for so many others.
So as I reflect, I encourage others to do the same. Think of yourself. Think of your mothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, neighbors, and colleagues. Lend words of encouragement to someone who may not even know they need to hear it. Lend words of encouragement to those who do. Be empathetic to the voices, feelings, and choices of the women in your life, because too often in this country, there are many who will not be.
If you’re wondering how you can take action:
- Vote and make your voice heard. Ensure that the representatives in office are those aligned with your values, and willing to fight for your rights.
- Donate: March of Dimes and Planned Parenthood are two great organizations supporting women’s maternal health and advocating for women.
- Take up as much space as you need: It’s okay if you don’t know what to say or what to do. Spend time with your loved ones, give encouraging words, and let others know you support them.