I’m one of those obnoxious people who loves birthdays. Especially my own. A day to celebrate me? To open presents? To eat cake? To dictate the cuisine and the day’s itinerary, and when I was little, the music choices on the car radio from the all-day shotgun position? Oh yes, please.
But on June 23, 2022, instead of imagining the delight of our first full day of a years-overdue vacation, I woke up thinking “please not today, please not today, please not today,” knowing the Supreme Court’s decision about Roe v. Wade was imminent. For that day, my 40th birthday, I gave myself the gift of avoiding the news and most of social media, aside from accepting birthday greetings and sharing snaps from the beach. And, as it happened, I enjoyed my last day as a person with bodily autonomy in America.
Waking up Friday to realize civil rights in the United States had been rolled back 50 years was no less a gut punch, despite anticipating it for months. To start my first full day at age 40 with fewer rights than my mother and grandmother at this age? There aren’t adequate words to describe the rage and devastation.
To know so many other civil rights are now at risk thanks to the extremist beliefs of a handful of unelected people, a couple of whom lied to assume their current role? To know guns and dead bodies have more federally protected rights than women do? To know conservative Christian values are warping laws and policies for millions? I have plenty of words, but none of them are appropriate for a general audience.
At this point, I just have these feelings of rage and devastation. And sympathy for the myriad people now bearing their souls on social media sharing how important access to reproductive health care was for saving their lives (as if extremist lawmakers care). And righteous indignation reading how virtually all professional medical organizations are speaking out against the decision and anti-science laws that will harm untold numbers of people. And frustration at the voices who call for patience and “voting them out,” as if that could meaningfully help now. And of course, dread at will come next.
The only balm has been seeing people attempting to connect and share resources, or offer future support and resources. The article “Mad About Roe, Here’s What To Do About It” by Robin Marty, author of the The New Handbook for a Post-Roe America, offers a number of direct actions people can take to advocate, share resources for reproductive health, and protect themselves and others from surveillance and persecution. I’m also appreciative of organizations like Elevated Access, which provide general aviation air transportation* to help people access health care across state lines. And of course, I’m grateful for my home state’s efforts to protect reproductive rights and provide services to folks in need.
Although I’d much prefer if our country viewed women as fully human and deserving of dignity and bodily autonomy, these examples keep me from full despair. For now anyway.
* Pilot friends, organizations like Elevated Access are looking for volunteers!