Overturning Roe threatens so much more than the right to an abortion

Overturning Roe threatens so much more than the right to an abortion
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Jane Doe waited in an immigration detention facility while a panel of three appeals-judges pondered her right to terminate her pregnancy. Brett Kavanaugh was one of those judges. Acting as both God and doctor, Kavanaugh told her she could not get an abortion. This stark and heartless ruling — with no regard for Roe’s precedent — clearly calls into question Kavanaugh’s suggestion that he will uphold the nearly 50-year-old decision.

Kavanaugh praised Justice Rehnquist’s Roe v Wade dissent, which proclaimed abortion as a “freewheeling judicial creation of unenumerated rights” that “were not rooted in the nation’s history and tradition” narrows the room by which to question Kavanaugh’s stance. What exactly is the probability that he will vote to overturn the federal right to abortion?

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I am not going to Vegas on those odds.

Roe goes beyond the right to choose to have an abortion. Overturning Roe threatens so much more than the right to an abortion. Roe’s importance enumerates, to use Rehnquist’s own words, the right to both personal choice and privacy in matter of marriage and family.

And while Roe hangs precariously by a thread if Kavanaugh is confirmed, we need to start thinking beyond the judiciary to the states to do the right thing for women. We need the states to act and protect our right to abortion.

We have witnessed a wave of restrictive laws sweep through the south and the Midwest that have made it nearly impossible for women to access abortion. We are fighting with everything we have to block Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but we cannot allow that to sideline our efforts at the state-level to protect women’s right to abortion and actually use this moment to go on offense.

Now is the time to urge the states to protect their citizens, and pass protections to ensure abortion access to their residents. Washington State has effectively made its abortion laws “Trump proof,” or in this case, “Kavanaugh proof.” Due to a 27-year-old Washington state law intended to defend abortion rights from challenges at the national level, initiative 120 declares that a woman has a right to choose a physician-performed abortion before fetal viability. The law emerged from a political climate all too similar to this one, and was passed in 1991 by a vote of the people.

In 2017, Arizona State Senator, Katie Hobbs (D), plans to introduce a bill that would allow more insurance plans to cover abortion and would help rape victim’s access emergency contraceptives. In the same year, hundreds of miles away in Minnesota, Representative Erin Murphy (D), this past week, introduced the “Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act,” which would enshrine insurance coverage of birth control in state law.

Both measures are still before their respective state legislatures. Will Kavanaugh, if confirmed, vote to overturn all these rights because they reflect modern sensibilities rather than archaic, prejudicial and oppressive ones?

Because the “nation’s history and traditions” Rehnquist and Kavanagh hold in such esteem are long, sordid traditions of oppression, prejudice and exacting control over others, the odds are not in our favor. Kavanaugh has enjoyed exacting that control, it is unlikely that he will suddenly turn to the side of the oppressed.

We need our states and our elected officials to take action to protect their constituents, their rights and their privacy. States have the ability to introduce proactive protections in their legislatures, and that is how we will ensure that all women, and all people, have access and the right to choose the health care that’s best for them.

We, as a nation, are risking the right to live our own lives as we see fit. States must step up and defend our rights in the wake of an ideologically driven activist court. We need support at the local and state levels, in states where women are targeted and hindered at every turn for simply trying to get the health care that is best for them.

Your local women’s health care clinics and advocacy networks need you now more than ever. Consider donating your time, money or skills to help ensure abortion access and equitable laws at the state level.

Julie A. Burkhart is the founder and CEO of Trust Women Foundation. Trust Women opens clinics that provide abortion care in underserved communities so that all women can make their own decisions about their health care. Follow her on Twitter @julieburkhart.