From the moment Roe vs. Wade was decided, the right to abortion has been under near constant attack from extremist politicians and ideologues. Here in Arkansas and across the country, politicians have devised new and ever more cruel restrictions to punish and shame women for their personal medical decisions – or push care out of reach.
Now with President Trump poised to appoint a nominee that could tilt the balance of the Supreme Court for a generation, these anti-abortion lawmakers believe overturning Roe v. Wade is finally within their grasp.
They may be right.
Justice Kennedy provided a critical vote to uphold a woman’s right to choose whether and when to have a child, and therefore to terminate a pregnancy. We’ve now lost his tie-breaking vote and President Trump has promised to replace him with a Justice who would take away the constitutional right to have an abortion altogether.
Legal experts disagree on the likelihood of an outright reversal of the ruling, but there is no question that Roe vs. Wade is at greater risk than at any time in the last 45 years.
We don’t have to speculate about what a post-Roe reality would mean for women in Arkansas because legislators in Little Rock are already signaling their intent to pass a near total ban on abortion.
Such a move would be devastating to women, and out of step with the majority of Americans who do not want Roe v. Wade overturned. Whatever one’s personal beliefs about abortion, none of us want to live in a world where women are forced by the government into giving birth or denied the reproductive health services they need.
As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said eloquently during her confirmation hearing, “This is something central to a woman's life, to her dignity. It's a decision that she must make for herself. And when Government controls that decision for her, she's being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”
That’s why, for the substantial majority of Americans who believe abortion is a decision that needs to be made by a woman and her family, this is not a drill. The time to make our voices heard is now.
The U.S. Supreme Court may be the highest court in the land, but it does not have all the power. The people do.
Over the past year and a half we’ve seen a historic surge of civic activism and engagement. People across the political spectrum – in small towns and big cities alike – are taking to the streets, making their voices heard, and demanding respect for their human and civil rights.
Now, with a woman’s right to control her own reproductive health at risk, it is even more important to speak out, take action and vote like our rights depend on it.