The flash of news from the United States Supreme Court sent images of the past into Kim Fellner’s mind.
Footage of her own illegal abortion many years ago. From a time when the procedure was shrouded in secrecy and subterfuge. Of his friends who couldn’t have any, because money or connections were needed.
Here we go again, she thought.
The 73-year-old woman from Washington said she was having trouble sleeping after hearing about an as-yet-unpublished ruling that could strike down 49 years of abortion law in the United States.
She woke up in the middle of the night thinking about it, woke up thinking about it again in the morning – then headed to the Supreme Court to protest.
“Damn it,” said the semi-retired labor movement worker. “I did that in the 70s – now I’m 70 and still doing the same bloody fight.”
The upcoming fight will see the floodgates open to a torrent of new feuds in a country already steeped in culture war.
Abortion laws could soon differ dramatically from state to state, so expect further fights between states over the interstate movement of people seeking abortions, payments for the procedure and abortion pills.
Imminent bans in Mississippi and… Michigan?
Fellner remembers being a teenager in New York and having to get parental permission to get her mother’s gynecologist to agree to perform an illegal abortion in her office.
This was when New York did not legalize abortion, and then the United States Supreme Court made it a constitutional right with the Roe v. Wade from 1973.
An extraordinary leak to the website Politico now unveils a draft version of a decision which, if published in its current form, would end Roe v. Wade.
The first thing that would follow such a decision is that abortion would be instantly made illegal in about two dozen states.
the list of states with looming bans include some you might imagine: conservative states like Mississippi, Texas, and North Dakota.
This list also includes states you might not consider: like Michigan, a purple state next to Canada, which still has a pre-Roe abortion ban on the books. from 1931.
Reversing this law will be difficult. This is because Michigan, like the vast majority of American stateshas a Republican legislature.
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“We are unfortunately under the domination of the minority”
Legislatures in the United States will continue to be overwhelmingly red until Democrats start winning more rural votes or the country reforms its political institutions, which doesn’t seem imminent.
Hence why so many progressives were in turmoil on Tuesday morning: They are facing a reality where they can win the popular vote by almost all national elections but still be handcuffed in the making of national policy.
“We are unfortunately under minority rule,” Alencia Johnson, a Democratic strategist and former head of Planned Parenthood, told CBC News.
“Last night I was so furious I was shaking.”
This reference to minority rule implies the basic design of American institutions that favor rural areas. The example of the manual? The body that confirms Supreme Court justices: the US Senate.
Periodic reminder that although D has won the popular vote for President 7 of the last 8 elections and D Senators represent more voters than R Senators in all but 2 years since 1992, the Conservatives have a 6 to 3 majority in the Supreme Court.
Each state has two senators, be it Wyoming (Population: 579,000) or California (Population: 39.2 million) and they helped confirm the current judges.
As for passing pro-abortion legislation now when Democrats hold a majority? That’s virtually impossible under current Senate rules, which require a 60% majority for most votes.
Democrats see stake in midterm elections
That’s why so many Democrats instantly turned the news into an election issue — and made it clear that it will be one of their midterm campaign goals this fall.
Look no further than Michigan.
Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer is a candidate for re-election – by mid-morning she had tweeted about abortion news six times on her personal or professional Twitter accounts.
She had also used it in a fundraising message. So did President Joe Biden in an email to supporters calling for campaign donations.
Democrats face almost certain defeat this fall — and the likely loss of Congress amid waning enthusiasm and dwindling support among young people.
Now the Democrats are basically saying to these people: Please show up to vote – and give us more senators, so we can affirm the judges and, maybe even pass laws to protect abortion, which would require a change in the rules of the Senate.
“I think it will get more people to come forward,” said Hannah Briceño, a young woman during the protest outside the court.
The 18-year-old student said she could imagine more of her friends voting because this question feels personal. she described friends back home in Washington state having had abortions because they wanted to finish school before giving birth.
She added a caveat, however: it is not clear that the Americans will remain focused on this issue.
Briceño joked the infamous Oscar slap in the face diverted the country’s attention from the war in Ukraine, and she said there’s no guarantee Americans will remember that question when they vote in November.
Opinion polls offer some comfort to Democrats, however.
Pills and People: The Battles Ahead
Historic abortion polls consistently show the public favoring Roe v. Wade, although the Americans are offering more nuanced views on abortion depending on the survey question.
The issue is likely to remain in the news due to the inevitable ripple effect of consequences if the court goes ahead with this decision.
The Supreme Court’s decision will be released by the summer at the end of its current session, and Biden says he has already prepared a response.
In a statement on Tuesday, the president said, “We will be ready as soon as a decision is made.”
One of those struggles probably involves abortion pills.
The Biden administration has previously tried to make it easier for patients to get medical abortions, through telehealth consultations, but it has caused a setback.
More … than 20 States proposed legal counterattacks: bills that would prohibit, restrict or complicate the process.
Anti-abortion Democrat urges party to fire
A study by the Journal of the American Medical Association last year found that tens of thousands of women requested abortion pills over a two-year period and the number soared in places with access to the abortion is less.
Another definite struggle involves the interstate movement. After Texas imposed its abortion ban, an agency that raised money to help patients get abortions in other states seen an influx of donations and demand for its services.
The red states have begun try to stop it practice.
A anti-abortion democrat said she doubted this issue would help her party.
The scene at the Supreme Court
In fact, Day said, it could help seal defeats in more conservative states, like Georgia and Ohio, where there are Senate seats up for grabs, and could cost Democrats the chamber.
Day said Democrats better embrace the state-to-state patchwork.
She said she would let anti-abortion states have anti-abortion laws and vice versa — and then everyone can judge which approach works best.
Day, leader of the group Democrats For Life, said her own preference would be reduced access to abortion and increased financial assistance for mothers seeking housing, childcare and a job.
“That’s the beauty of the United States. States are meant to be experiments. To figure out what’s best,” she said. “That was supposed to be the goal of the United States.”
She was among hundreds of people thronging the Supreme Court at lunchtime on Tuesday and was among the small minority in the anti-abortion camp.
WATCH | Pro-choice lawyer compares draft notice to The Handmaid’s Tale:
People of differing opinions generally swayed in respectful disagreement.
There were heated interludes, like the stranger in the camouflage t-shirt who walked past the crowd and called the protesters fools.
Others tried to debate with respect. After a few pointless minutes of trying to persuade herself, a middle-aged woman walked away from three young women carrying anti-abortion signs and said it was nice to meet them.
“That conversation was America,” the pro-choice woman said.
Nearby, a pair of dogs harassed each other, baring their fangs as their owners tugged on the leashes to stop them attacking each other.
Prepare for a few scenes like this in the coming months as well.