The red-robed memes started immediately after Friday’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and jumpstarting abortion bans across the country.
When I first read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale back in 1985, I certainly could believe some people wanted a nation with women completely controlled by men. I did not believe I would see a large swath of the United States become Gilead right before my eyes.
Forced pregnancy is now the law of the land in many states.
In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas made clear the scope of control, arguing that the court’s reasoning in Dobbs also should be applied to earlier decisions about contraception, sexual relationships and marriage equality.
The court’s “originalists” want the meaning of the Constitution to be bound to the original intention of its authors. Interestingly enough, Clarence Thomas and Amy Coney Barrett seem to forget that its original authors never intended for people like them to vote, much less sit on the Supreme Court.
The Constitution never has guaranteed equality for women. Any movement toward equal treatment under the law has come because of legislation. If we return to the original intention of the Constitution’s writers, then legislative rollbacks of legal protections for women are constitutional. This is why feminists have continued to advocate for the ERA, to protect women’s rights under the Constitution.
Naysayers have argued we don’t need an Equal Rights Amendment because existing laws protect women’s rights. Still believe that?
“Naysayers have argued we don’t need an Equal Rights Amendment because existing laws protect women’s rights. Still believe that?”
And if you think things can’t get worse, now that they’ve won the Supreme Court, anti-choice activists have said they will turn their attention to the remaining states that protect abortion access.
Imagine in the not-so-distant future, a Republican Congress, a Republican president, and a federal bill banning abortion nationwide.
One radical wing of the anti-choice movement deems itself “abortion abolitionists.” They want to criminalize not only doctors who perform abortions, but also those who undergo such procedures. They advocate for criminal prosecution and punishment for people who have abortions. And what penalty should we impose? Imprisonment? Execution? Hung on the city wall for all to see as a cautionary tale?
Certainly people are organizing to protest the decision and to seek ways to provide abortion access for those who need it. But we now know without a doubt that in the United States we have minority rule with no regard for the will of the American people (who support abortion rights) and no regard for the well-being of pregnant people who are no more than incubators. Laws that make no exceptions, not even for the health or life of the one who is pregnant, make this clear.
“We’ve crossed a threshold into every dystopian novel I’ve ever read.”
My state, Oregon, has expanded abortion rights and is seeking to create access for abortion refugees from nearby states. But millions of people no longer will be able to make their own reproductive decisions. The state will make these decisions for them.
We’ve crossed a threshold into every dystopian novel I’ve ever read.
Christian nationalists have imposed their will on the nation, and their ambitions are only stoked by this victory. I grieve to think how many people will die because pregnancy has been forced on them, how many lives will be upended, how much possibility lost. I fear what is yet to come from a Supreme Court that does not represent the American people, takes no heed of precedence and embraces a radical right agenda. Nothing is Christian about this.
There is no balm in Gilead.
Susan M. Shaw is professor of women, gender and sexuality studies at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore. She also is an ordained Baptist minister and holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Her most recent book is Intersectional Theology: An Introductory Guide, co-authored with Grace Ji-Sun Kim.
To reduce abortion humanely and justly, people of faith should back the ERA | Opinion by Allyson McKinney Timm and Meghan Tschanz
Why Christians should support the Equal Rights Amendment | Opinion by Carrie N. Baker and Susan M. Shaw
Why men should be concerned about the abortion ruling | Opinion by Darrell Hamilton III