“This can’t be real!”
That’s the first thing I remember saying when I looked at Politico on May 6th and read that the Supreme Court planned to overturn Roe v. Wade.
I’m not exactly sure why after living through a plague, a coup attempt, and personally witnessing 27 years of attacks on reproductive freedoms, I was still capable of stringing those words together, but I did.
Spoiler alert: the news was bad for abortion rights. A leaked draft from Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito showed that at least in February, there were likely enough votes on the court to reverse Roe.
Messages from friends, family, and colleagues flooded in asking if I had any idea what the draft meant.
And, I’ll tell you what I told them. Abortion is still legal in the United States.
Could that change? Hell, yes. Guttmacher estimates that if the Supreme Court overturns Roe, 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion outright. Not to mention the 13 states that have already committed to banning abortion if Roe falls. And Oklahoma all but banned the procedure last month.
But when I asked people working in the reproductive justice movement the one thing my readers need to know, they told me to tell you that as of today, Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land.
This might sound obvious. But since the leaked draft was published misinformation about the legality of abortion has spread like wildfire.
In Texas, folks managing abortion funds tell me that they’ve noticed a significant drop in callers because many people think the procedure is already completely illegal even if they cross state lines.
The worst thing organizers tell me we can do now is allow propaganda and misinformation to dissuade people from getting the care they need.
It’s also worth pointing out that the leaked draft opinion was just that, a draft. It seems certain that changes have been made to the opinion, and it’s possible (although unlikely) that the votes to overturn Roe are no longer there.
Regardless of the outcome at the Supreme Court, the fight for reproductive justice did not start when Alito’s draft leaked. The fight over abortion has been raging for decades, and especially in the states the anti-abortion side has been winning.
Right now, organizers say rather than our resignation, they need our hope.
Hope that a better future is possible. Hope that this fight is winnable. Hope that reproductive justice can extend to the Black, brown, and trans folks, for whom that justice is so often out of reach.
And hope that people are strong enough to add their voices and actions to the folks on the ground, who’ve been doing this work from day one, and win.