Back to the Supreme Court for more. Third time’s the charm, because WE WON!
Let me clear this up for you: WE WON!
In a 5-3 vote, SCOTUS invalidated the restrictions placed on abortion clinics in Texas. The TRAP Law known as H. B. 2 is unconstitutional. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Notorious RBG) put it, “…It is beyond all rational belief that H. B. 2 could genuinely protect the health of women…” This ruling is a victory for reproductive justice and abortion access. It’s already affected similar laws in Mississippi and Louisiana. It’s a big deal.
You don’t think about what it was like to there when memorizing the outcomes of significant Supreme Court cases in A.P. Gov. I have the incredible privilege to be have been present when the ruling of a major Supreme Court case was announced. The New York Times called Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt the conclusion to a “trilogy” of abortion access court cases (the others being Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey). I now know what it’s like to be there.
Your feet ache, and you’re covered in sweat. Your arms hurt from holding up a sign for hours on end. Your throat is sore from chanting. But that doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of shouting and hugging. You don’t really know any details, only that SCOTUSblog tweeted that Texas’s abortion laws were invalidated. You don’t know which justice voted which way. All that info starts trickling in as news sites get updated.
All the bits up to that part were just like my previous demonstrations at SCOTUS. We showed up around 7:30 in the morning. The pro-choice crowd was on the left, but we wanted to be on the right, closer to the cameras. Kelli was still reeling from the finale for Game of Thrones (I’ve read all the books, just haven’t seen the most recent season), and had adopted the “win or die” attitude. We tried to go through the anti’s to carve out some space, but they squeezed together and wouldn’t budge. Not when she asked politely. Not even when she threw her weight into passing them. A police officer told them that they couldn’t block the sidewalk, or they all would have to leave. They didn’t move a muscle. The officer left it at that. So we set up where we stood. Of course we didn’t block people. We politely let anti-choice folks through so they could get to their comrades.
But there was definitely an increased pro-choice presence. I saw a couple of velvet, purple cowboy hats with uteruses drawn on them. I need one of those. At one point, I was given a section of quilt to hold. It was a quilt made by pro-choice activist and artist Chi Nguyen. Each stitch represented the 5.4 million women potentially affected by the ruling.The quilt was well over 100 feet long. Quilting for social justice is totally something I can support. The sheer number of diverse, passionate people was quite a sight to see. And to know we were all united for reproductive justice was exhilarating. This is what democracy looks like. And it’s pretty incredible when you get to be part of it.
We got a rude reminder of how far there is still left to go as we left the Supreme Court. Giddy from the decision, we let our guard down when an old man asked for a picture. After we posed, the man lowered his camera and asked, “So, what should I caption this with? This is what a racist looks like?” It took a second for it to make sense. “You know most of the babies aborted are black.” We immediately walked away, shocked by his hostile attack.
There is still so much more work to be done. Clinics are threatened with violence every single day. Anti-choice groups can masquerade as health providers and deliberately mislead patients to keep them from opting for an abortion. TRAP Laws prevent people who need abortions from getting the medical care they need. We have to remember that, even in the midst of celebrating. It’ll be a long, hard fight for reproductive justice. Days like this don’t happen too often. But when they do, they propel us onward, and reinvigorate us to fight the good fight.