Oakland, CA — This morning, a lawless and renegade majority of the United States Supreme Court overturned fifty years of precedent, relegating all people who can reproduce to second-class citizenship by stripping the legal right from the Constitution to control our reproduction, our bodies, and our freedom. This decision extinguishes a right that had been guaranteed under the Constitution’s Due Process Clause, an unprecedented and dangerous step that shows us that no right that we hold firm and sacred is truly safe.
This decision is tragic. As the brave dissenters point out, the Court has condemned women and girls in much of this country to a life where, from the moment of fertilization, the state controls their bodies. A state can force a pregnancy to term even if it is the result of rape or incest, or if it has a fatal disease and no hope of survival. This decision harms us all, relegating all of us to live in a world that is less safe and less free.
Indeed, that is the point. This is a step in this Court’s cruel crusade to reduce and remove rights and freedoms, not its end. As justices suggested in this very decision, the goal is not merely to overturn Roe: it is to end all of the rights that emanate from that same constitutional source. They seek to end the right to marriage equality set forth in Obergefell v. Hodges, the right to sexual privacy regardless of one’s gender or legal relationship set forth in Lawrence v. Texas, and the very right to contraception and bodily autonomy set forth in Griswold v. Connecticut. And as the three surviving progressive and law-abiding Justices declared, “[t]he majority has overruled Roe and Casey for one and only one reason: because it has always despised them, and now it has the votes to discard them.”
Make no mistake: this is not an isolated decision. This is the result of decades of work, of a longstanding, and growing, nationwide illiberal campaign against progress, a campaign to turn back the clock to a time when only the few were powerful and only the privileged were free. This campaign has been funded by American oligarchs, fueled by brutal ideologues, influenced a generation of lawyers and politicians, and trained and selected the judges—including the majority on this Court—who decide what our laws mean. Today, this campaign is about reproductive justice. But it is also about eviscerating voting rights for Black Americans; immigration, asylum, and citizenship rights from Latinx, Asian, and other new Americans; land rights from Indigenous Americans; the very right to legal existence for LGBTQIA+ Americans; and much, much more.
Yet, despite where we find ourselves today, this can still be just a moment in time. We can and must weather this catastrophe and remember that we have been here before. I am part of the generation that remembers life before Roe v. Wade. As a woman and a descendant of enslaved Africans, I and my parents and ancestors have suffered this country’s oppressions, experienced some of its freedoms, and will experience both again. And what I know today is that we cannot give up. We cannot grow numb. We must acknowledge our grief—and let it motivate us to action. I firmly believe and know in my heart that we will not give in or give up, and that we will succeed in restoring and expanding our rights. We will fight to protect the people of Oakland, and will fight with our sister governments to protect reproductive rights and freedoms across California—and, however we can, to bring those rights and freedoms back nationwide. We have the power to do this together.