Today's Paper Latest Sports Core Values Weather Newsletters Obits Puzzles Archive Story ideas iPad
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Democracy’s latest hit

by Sharon Grigsby The Dallas Morning News | June 26, 2022 at 2:09 a.m.


What already has been a terrible week for democracy ended in the darkest of days with the Supreme Court decision that the right to abortion, upheld for almost 50 years, no longer exists.

Everything in this country has turned inside out. We've lost all sense of normalcy.

Countless feminist voices have used "The Handmaid's Tale," Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel of women's reproductive oppression, as a clarion call to where we were headed.

The images of those dystopian victims, clad in red cloaks and white face-concealing bonnets, have never felt more of the moment than today.

Looking at the last few news cycles, it's no wonder many of us feel we've lost our country and perhaps are no longer even safe here.

We've seen Texas Republicans officially brand LBGTQ citizens as "abnormal" and President Joe Biden an "acting" commander-in-chief not "legitimately elected."

Then came another round of sickening revelations out of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the latest involving the threats made against public servants as then-President Donald Trump and his allies sought to overturn the election.

Thursday brought a Supreme Court ruling that expands gun rights nationwide at a time when sensible Americans are trying to figure out how to stop mass shootings.

And now those same justices have overthrown Roe v. Wade, meaning that about half the 50 states will roll back abortion rights immediately and others can quickly follow.

It's shameful that the section of the Supreme Court that claims to be the most conservative, which would imply respect for self-governance and self-sufficiency, would so undermine a person's right to make decisions about her own body.

Such hypocrisy. And another reminder as we approach July Fourth that the statement was literal: All men are created equal.

It feels these justices are just making it up as they go -- or making it up, no matter its inconsistencies -- to suit their political purposes.

As devastating as this decision is for women, at least just as bad was Justice Clarence Thomas' threat, made in his concurring opinion, that the court should reconsider rulings that protect access to same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage.

The first friend I called after seeing the news bulletin was on the phone with her lesbian daughter who, through her sobs, asked her mom, "What's going to happen to me? I'm gay in Texas."

My friend was at a loss. "To have your child ask you that, it is so disgusting and devastating."

Another tragedy of Friday's ruling is that it will only perpetuate and exacerbate the economic divide in this country.

Women with financial means will secure abortions in those states where the procedure remains legal. The poor will endanger themselves by trying to find a way to end their pregnancy illegally or give birth to a child that, along with the mother, suffers the consequences.

We have known this day was coming, especially since a draft of the decision leaked out in early May. But again the actual news is no less horrifying, cruel and oppressive.

It's a sense of betrayal, of insult, of being thrown back to a long, long time ago. Back to when society dictated that women had to live with the way things were -- to shut up and put up with whatever was dished out.

A vital protection is about to be taken away and replaced by the criminalization of women who already are in a desperate situation. It feels like, as a group, we are now less than other citizens.

We have been denied the same dignity and autonomy that men enjoy to control our own lives.

As the fight moves to the state level, we can only hope that these same "states' rights" advocates will be as respectful of those that pass abortion-rights protections as those that oppose them.

Perhaps the overturn of Roe will galvanize abortion rights proponents to organize and fight as effectively as the other side has done in the decades after abortion became legal.

It's even possible that this is such a radical ruling that it will cause people who consider themselves "in the middle moderates" on the abortion issue to rise up and push back against it.

History has shown that when the body politic moves radically in either direction, a commensurate response builds in subsequent years to slow or reverse that radicalism.

But that discussion is for another day.

Today is for contemplating the loss of the fragile autonomy women so needed to hold onto. As I've said before, it takes two people to create an embryo, and only the female half is forced to bear the onus of the unwanted pregnancy.

My large circle of friends includes several women who are praying their gratitude today for what they believe is a righteous decision. They tell me the abortion issue is about children -- helpless babies, just like their own.

If only it were that simple.

If only everyone who cares so deeply about fetuses followed their anti-abortion votes with votes for politicians who genuinely care what happens to those children after they are born. If only they spent a day up close with the reality of women who feel abortion is the best choice.

My phone has blown up with calls and texts from women of all ages. Most speak of being overwhelmed and heartbroken. Of not even reading the news because it's so upsetting. One simply read: "What to say? I love you both."

Having lived through a lot of mean, uncompromising history, I recall days darker than this one.

But America always rebounded to a place I recognized.

After this week's drumbeat of harmful developments on so many fronts, I'm just not confident that will happen this time.


Print Headline: Democracy’s latest hit

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsor Content

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT