For years, women across the country have been warning about the end of abortion, and what it would mean for everyday women. With each new step this country took away from reproductive freedom — the election of President Trump; the confirmation of Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett to the Supreme Court; the upholding of Texas’ clearly unconstitutional SB8 — the threats got more dire and urgent. So some of us chanted, we marched, we protested. We got loud.
Then, last week a leaked draft opinion from Justice Samuel Alito revealed that the Supreme Court is planning to overrule Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey – effectively overturning the federal right to an abortion.
Here’s the problem: What’s about to happen in this country isn’t just an assault on the vocal minority of women who’ve been taking to the streets, to state capitals, to the Capitol to demand that our voices are heard, that our rights aren’t trampled on, that our bodies stay ours.
It’s an assault on the silent majority of this country, too. On the women — and men — who haven’t chanted, marched, or protested. Who haven’t taken to the streets or shown up to halls of power. Who still, nonetheless, want abortion to be safe, accessible, and legal.
Pro-abortion rights activists protest outside the Supreme Court building, ahead of arguments in the Mississippi abortion rights case in Washington, Dec. 1, 2021.
It’s a whopping 80% of all Americans, a supermajority. Some of us identify as pro-choice; others don’t. Some of us are Democrats; some are Republicans; and others still are apolitical. Some of us get lifesaving health care from Planned Parenthood; others have protested outside its doors. Some of us believe abortion is fundamental, an extension of our right to privacy and bodily autonomy.
Others have deeply-held religious and moral objections to it. For some of us, abortion is a decision we made and have never regretted. For others, abortion was the backup plan to a backup plan to a backup plan we never wanted to use. For some of us, abortion is the defining political issue of our times. For others, it’s deeply, deeply personal.
Abortion rights advocates gather outside the state Capitol on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Oklahoma City.
(AP Photo/Sean Murphy)
For most of us, it’s not so simple. It’s not just good or bad. It’s not just right or wrong. For most of us, abortion is many things, and not all of them fit neatly into boxes. And yet, nearly one in four women in this country will have an abortion in her life. You probably love someone who’s had an abortion, or will have one someday. You definitely know her.
It makes sense, then, that while eighty percent of this country agrees on almost nothing — even and especially regarding abortion — there is one big exception: When the time comes to make this deeply personal choice, 80% of this country believes that you and your doctor should have the right to make it together, without the government holding you back.
That is what’s at risk if and when this horrific Alito decision takes effect — and what makes the decision so horrific in the first place. Because this ruling doesn’t just go after Democrats, or the pro-choice movement, or the feminists the far right has always looked down upon, or the activists they’ve never cared for.
It goes after everyone. It has the potential to criminalize everyone. Not just the vocal minority in the streets in deep blue states and cities, but the silent majority sitting around their kitchen tables in small conservative towns like the one I call home in Texas, grateful for the abortion their wife was able to access during a pregnancy that put her health at risk, or afraid of the one their granddaughter might no longer be able to access if she were raped.
So over the coming days, weeks, and months, those of us who’ve been vocal about the threat that abortion bans and the end of Roe pose to our lives and livelihoods will stay vocal. On May 14th, we’re calling on everyone and anyone in that eighty percent to join us for a nationwide “Bans Off Our Bodies” Day of Action for Abortion Rights, with events planned all throughout the country, and major anchor actions planned in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.
But we won’t stop there. We’ll keep chanting, marching and protesting. We’ll keep donating and voting until the attacks on our rights and our bodily autonomy end.
And remember: But we’re not just doing it for us. We’re doing it for you — for the silent majority — too.
Rachel O’Leary Carmona is the executive director of Women’s March. Based in Amarillo, Texas, Carmona has a long record of non-profit experience and activism, and has previously held leadership positions with Amnesty International, Girl Scouts of the USA, and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).