The bombshell news that Justice Anthony Kennedy—a reliable pro-abortion rights vote—is retiring from the Supreme Court means that Roe v. Wade is truly, seriously imperiled. We could wake up within a few years to find abortion fully illegal in over 20 states.
Ironically, in recent months, right up until the Kennedy-related outpouring of fear we’re seeing, abortion rights advocates had noticed a growing fatigue around the issue, while access to abortion was eroded almost daily.
There’s a difference between abortion being legal, which it technically is as of now in the U.S., and being able to get an abortion if you need one. Because of the scarcity of abortion providers, the power of abortion stigma restrictions in individual states, and the existence of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, actually getting abortion care is a challenge at best for folks in rural areas, poor folks, people of color, and other vulnerable populations. For these people, abortion access has never been a guarantee, and Roe v. Wade is nothing but a gesture.
So what can be done in the face of danger from the outside and fatigue within—especially now that Roe itself is likely to fall? M., an abortion clinic escort in California, told me her organization has been losing escorts rapidly, since postelection energy wore off in 2016. “Even the generally woke-ish people in my life genuinely have no idea how precarious our situation is right now. It’s tough, because there are so many things that people are understandably prioritizing— the rise of fascists, immigrant detention, etc., but at the same time, people don’t understand that all of these things are connected.” CHANEL DUBOFSKY, the Lilith Blog.