Today’s ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the constitutional right to an abortion is an attack not just on reproductive justice, but also on racial and economic justice in our nation. I am deeply saddened but not shocked. Many of us cannot remember a time before the protections of Roe, but the harsh reality is healthcare workers throughout history have seen too many people lose their lives due to a lack of access to safe, legal abortion.
Reproductive freedom is a matter of public health. Our union stands united in fighting against the disparity of negative health outcomes BIPOC people face, including a Black mortality rate during childbirth that is nearly double that of white folks. Making abortion illegal will not stop people from obtaining them as our past has shown us, it simply relegates those with the least resources — low-income, BIPOC, and other marginalized and at-risk people — to the worst possible health outcomes. These decisions will have negative impacts on the health of our communities — yes, including fatal consequences that could, and should be avoided in a just world.
If you are grieving, angry, tired: I understand. For our mental well-being, we have to make space for and process these feelings, and you have my support in doing so. But please remember that those fighting against our freedoms are targeting us in this way to try and force minority rule while they can. They know there are more of us than them, they know we have power if we stand together and act on it. That is why they rig the system, why they act with ferocious urgency.
Those of us in Washington should expect and prepare for an influx of patients seeking care they can’t otherwise get in their home states. State leadership on the West Coast issued a statement doubling down on our commitment to providing a safe haven for all people seeking abortions and reaffirming that our laws regarding reproductive access have not changed.
I encourage you to channel your righteous anger about this decision by taking action today at 5:00 pm at a court near you. Find an action near you using this map. But beyond today, we must organize, vote and send a clear message to lawmakers at both the state and federal levels — we won’t go back; we won’t back down. We will not let them further erode our rights.
Whether you live in a red state or blue, the threat to legal abortions and reproductive privacy has never been more vicious, and we must take it seriously. The stakes are high, but we have power, and we will use it.
Jane Hopkins, RN
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW