The Supreme Court’s Roe decision: an exercise in raw power
“They overturned Roe!” I hadn’t heard yet when my colleague, Nik, told me the news. Her words made me feel lightheaded. I thought about my all-women staff — many young women setting their life’s road in place.
By now, you probably have written your statements and have sent them out. Bravo! But that is not enough. This decision requires an emotional response, one filled with empathy and space to grieve what has been lost. Women who can have babies have lost a right to their own bodies. Whether that includes you or not, the fact is that 23% of women have had an abortion. 6 out of 10 Americans support a woman’s right to choose. Those numbers represent people who are your employees, your customers.
The Supreme Court ruling was an exercise in raw power — not one reflective of the will of the people but hidden behind a false narrative of original intent. When the Constitution was created, my very existence could have only happened with white men who had access to black female bodies. To embrace the idea that the Constitution cannot evolve is to choose some of our darkest history.
With this ruling from a deeply divided court, women’s lives are in danger. Abortion will not stop happening because it is illegal. Instead, the law will force women to get unsafe abortions. Comparing the years immediately before and immediately after Roe, we see the number of women who died from unsafe abortions plummeted with access to legal abortions. There is no reason to believe this trend will reverse now that access to legal abortions has once again been restricted. As the Guttmacher Institute observed, the research opinions and statistics of the past are a “potent reminder of the dangers of restricting abortion access.”
Women of color and poor women will be the most affected. Make no mistake: Abortion is a class issue. There will be women who will have the resources to get safe abortions. As Dr. Herminia Palacio, Guttmacher Institute President and CEO said in a statement: “Evidence also shows the disproportionate and unequal impact abortion restrictions have on people who are already marginalized and oppressed — including Black and brown communities, other people of color, people with low incomes, young people, LGBTQ communities, immigrants and people with disabilities.”
Overturning Roe is just the start. Justice Thomas called for overturning constitutional rights affirmed for contraceptive access and LGBTQ rights. Overturning those rulings could even threaten interracial relationship rights.
The right to have an abortion is a fundamental right to privacy. Privacy is core to equity. We must have agency over our bodies and our lives.
This marks a sad day not just for women, but also for all Americans. Instead of keeping the light on our faces, we are being asked to turn around and reenter our dark past.
I hope your statements become policy for your company and a call to action. Indignation is not enough. Protecting women is critical to a healthy society — a law of nature the Supreme Court obviously overlooked.
Malia Lazu is CEO of The Lazu Group.