On May 2, an initial draft majority opinion from the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) leaked by Politico, revealed a decision to eliminate Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that gave women the right to choose and make their own reproductive decisions.
The decision would also overturn the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, in which the Supreme Court affirmed the basic ruling of Roe v. Wade that the state is prohibited from banning most abortions.
The document is authentic but not final, Chief Justice John Robert said.
Reaction was swift and loud.
Protests arose across the nation, including locally at Cal State University Northridge where students and faculty members assembled on Tuesday, May 3, to express their anger.
Shira Brown, a professor of Gender and Women’s Studies (GWS) and the director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center, after hearing the news, began messaging students.
“Obviously, we want everybody who cares about this issue to come out and show support,” Brown said.
Dangers of Limiting Abortion Access
As Brown explained, limiting abortion access is not simply a women’s health issue.
“Let’s say someone can’t get a legal abortion in Texas, but maybe they can in California. Now we’re talking about people who have to have money to be able to access abortion,” Brown said.
“That’s obviously not going to be covered by health insurance, Medical or anything like that. So we’re going to see it become a class issue, a race issue.”
Brown said abortion has been a class issue for a long time. In most of the US, women cannot use public assistance programs like Medicaid to access abortion. There are only 17 states that allow public funding to be used for abortions, including California.
She also stated that organizations like Planned Parenthood will have to put a lot of funding into fighting this issue by lobbying the federal government, and also in states that would be quick to ban abortions.
She points out the enormous upheaval and difficulty that this decision will bring to women living in states where abortion will be outlawed.
“That’s going to be a big strain [on states where abortions are legal],” Brown said. “Because now you need to protect these women, and perhaps create funding to help someone in a state where [abortion] is illegal come to a state where it’s legal.”
Brown asserted that there is the motivation for more protests and rallies leading up to the annual Women’s March and national day of action on May 14. The title of this year’s rally, including the one in downtown Los Angeles, is called “Bans Off Our Bodies.”
Anger on Campus
On Tuesday, protesting students held signs saying, “Protect a person’s right to choose,” “Keep your opinions out of my uterus,” “Bans off our bodies” and “Rosaries off of ovaries.” The demonstration gradually grew in size as classes ended and protesters called to other students to come and join them.
One protester, freshman Christine Latif, said she is “passionate” about reproductive rights and “infuriated” about the document.
“This is an attack on all women, an attack on anyone who has a uterus and we can’t just sit here and be silent,” Latif said. “We need to stand up for what’s right and support the people’s right to choose.”
The protesters marched to Arbor Court — the nearby cafeteria — and Student Union before ending at the Sierra Tower, chanting phrases like “My body, my choice,” “Abortion rights are human rights,” and “No more bloody hangers.”
Skylar Hall, a senior who interns with the Asian Americans Studies Pathways Project, said she personally knows several women who have had abortions and was “enraged” by the draft opinion.
“We, as oppressed people across the world, have to realize that we have more things in common with each other and that we need to unite and disrupt the spaces that these white supremacist, patriarchal institutions created and to gather more mass support,” Hall said.
“We can’t let five Supreme Court justices that weren’t even elected decide the fate for the entire country. We need to prioritize the people’s voice in order to get mass support, in order to really shine a light on the [expletive] that’s happening.”
Monica Cornejo, an administrative support assistant in the GWS department, loudly declared, “I had an abortion and I’m proud of it!”
Brown reminded people that a long battle still lies ahead.
“Right now, it’s just a leaked document, but it’s coming and I think we all kind of knew it was coming,” Brown said. “But this is the time right now to do your research, make your phone calls, talk to your family and friends about what it would mean and try to get involved.”