Like everybody else during this era of COVID-19, I was at home when I found out Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. In the back of my mind, I knew losing her was a possibility, of course, but there was a part of me that also assumed she was immortal. She was just superhuman, so her death was both stunning and gut-wrenching. Simply put, I wasn’t prepared.
I wasn’t entirely prepared for what followed either. The news of her passing had barely been heard around the world when Republicans immediately started conniving to jam through a Supreme Court justice nominee less than two months before a very contentious presidential election. I naively assumed the Republicans wouldn’t use their raw political power to assert leverage on the one institution that we’ve always believed to be above partisanship: our judiciary. But it was very clear that tipping the Supreme Court in their favor was all they were thinking about. Watching this unfold over weeks after RBG’s death was deeply dismaying.
People used to think of the judicial system as being methodical, thoughtful in reason, and with a foundation based on history and precedent. We presumed the courts would always be there for us. Now, that is no longer the case.
In less than a decade, we have seen the Supreme Court shift to the conspicuously conservative, and their latest decision to refuse to take action on the horrific six-week abortion ban enacted in Texas was stunning. The hyper-partisanship on today’s Court is reprehensible. Even after Justice Ginsburg passed, I never imagined that we could lose so much so quickly.
I was born in Waco, Texas. All of my family lives in Texas. The people of Texas did not want this abortion ban. Governor Greg Abbott didn’t ban abortion before most people even know they’re pregnant because he listened to his constituents. Do you know what the people of Texas want? Access to quality health care for their families. Good public schools. An energy grid that actually works. They want leadership that actually addresses the problems they’re facing.
What we all now face is not a hypothetical. This is not a dry run. People in Texas no longer have the ability to make decisions about their own pregnancies. It’s not just that they have lost a constitutional right, which is deeply disturbing in its own right. Millions of people are going to be dramatically affected by this too, even if we get an injunction. Even if we get, eventually, our day before the Supreme Court. We can’t take back the damage that has been done.
Even if we get our day before the Supreme Court, we can’t take back the damage that has been done.
I know that folks across the country are scared. But this is not the time to be afraid. This is a time to be louder and prouder than ever before. And what gives me hope is the younger generations—your generation. You are the most educated, most socially active, most progressive generation we’ve ever had. Women are the majority of voters. Women can determine the future. Young people can determine the future.
It’s extraordinary to think about all that has changed in the past year, and it can be difficult to recall a time when we had leaders who actually prioritized the people of this country. But there is no one better than Ruth Bader Ginsburg to remind us of the possibility of that leadership.
So on the one-year anniversary of Justice Ginsburg’s passing, it’s important that we acknowledge what she did in her lifetime and what she would have us do. I believe Ruth would want us to organize. After 2016, we organized and we fought back and we got Donald Trump out of office. But now we have a whole other set of players to contend with, and while they may not have as obnoxious a personality as the former president and they may not be as crude in their speech, their policies and politics are just as bad.
If we allow these elected officials to feel like they can do this with impunity, they will not stop here.
This is a country that supports abortion. We just have to be loud about it. The worst thing we can do is let a small, evil, mean-spirited, cruel minority of people in this country shut us down. We have the tools, having been in this fight for abortion rights for a long time. We have great litigators, an incredible group of abortion providers, clinicians, escorts, volunteers, abortion storytellers, and people who just get up, go to work, and try to take care of pregnant people seeking abortion care.
We can send a signal, in both the voting booth and the streets, that where we’re headed is not where this country is going to go.
We can build a country where abortion is equally available to everyone, regardless of their ability to afford care, their ability to travel, their race, their gender identity, or their age.
Maybe that means sharing your abortion story. Maybe that means supporting a friend through their own abortion. Maybe that means rethinking the idea that voting doesn’t matter.
It might even mean doing something scary, but I assure you that if you take action, you will feel so much better when you do. Just don’t quit. There are people everywhere looking for a sign that they’re not alone, and that’s what you can do. You never know the difference that your voice and your story can make in the lives of someone else.
This is our moment.
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