The US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs Wade is an act of violence against women and girls, which will serve to limit women’s access to education and employment, their freedom of movement, their economic well being, their voice in civic and political life, and their autonomy over their own bodies.
It also increases the likelihood women, girls, and other pregnant people will experience physical violence at the hands of spouses, intimate partners, and family members.
We know that pregnancy is an especially dangerous time for intimate partner violence. More pregnant people die of homicide than die of bleeding or placental disorders. Women’s reproductive health is also often used as a tool to preserve a family’s honor or public image, placing girls and women with unintended pregnancies at an increased risk of violence.
Last Friday’s announcement did not come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the state of women’s rights in the United States. The erosion of reproductive rights over the last decade is just one of the many signs of second class citizenship that women occupy. In many states, abortion access has been hanging by a thread or existed in name only, with few clinics and services available, and increasingly aggressive legislation to limit the right and access to abortion care.
Promises to codify Roe vs Wade have been made for 49 years, yet no one has followed through on that promise. Obama campaigned on reproductive rights and later betrayed women by saying when he was elected - with a supermajority - that it wasn't a priority. The Biden Administration had almost two months to prepare a concrete response to the overturning of Roe, after a draft opinion was leaked in early May, but is yet to take any substantive action to protect access to abortion.
VOICE calls upon elected officials to present a clear and decisive plan about how they will ensure access to abortion and contraception and curtail the violence against women and girls that will inevitably accompany the end of Roe vs Wade.
This may include expanding the Supreme Court, removing the filibuster, making medication abortion more accessible, codifying the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), or as Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez have called for, using federal land as a safe haven in states that ban or severely restrict abortion. It must also include ending restrictions that prevent NGOs operating internationally from using USAID money to provide abortion services, or even mentioning abortion - even if the funding for such programming is coming from non-US sources.
If you are in the US, we urge you to call your representatives to make these demands, and to vote for local and federal representatives that are committed to choice in November. If you live in a state where abortion is legal, encourage your elected officals to pass laws that will codify abortion access into their state’s constitution and protect residents that help out-of-state pregnant people.
We also urge you to donate to the activists and service providers who have been doing this work for decades - especially those led by women of color, who will be both disproportionately impacted by the fall of Roe, and who have driven the reproductive justice movement to date.
Finally, we encourage you to gather: in person, online, in the streets, or in your living room. Feminist organizing in the US has a long history of women coming together to share community, resources, tactics, and strategies. We must continue to build community and call each other in to imagine a collective future where violence against women and girls and birthing bodies is relegated to history.
No matter what courts say, VOICE stands by our fundamental belief that to eliminate violence against women and girls, we must honor their bodily autonomy and agency.
VOICE will continue to share updates and calls to action on this issue. We encourage you to follow us on the social media platform of your choice (you can find us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn), and to subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed.
Mendy Marsh and the VOICE team