In this political atmosphere, I have tried to remain optimistic. Have things been dreadful? Yes. Have I sometimes lost hope? Of course. Yet I have tried to remind myself that we only have to endure a Trump presidency for 926 more days. I have encouraged those around me to volunteer on campaigns and help Democrats take the House back in the fall (fingers crossed!). While citizen activism is useful, my true beacon of hope during this time has been the Supreme Court, telling myself that of course, they must see Trump’s actions as unconstitutional.
This obviously has changed within the last two weeks.
The Supreme Court has shown that while they do hold an unmatched amount of power, that does not mean they always use that power wisely. With rulings such as Janus v. AFSCME and upholding Trump’s Muslim travel ban, the court has demonstrated a frustrating willingness in enabling Trump’s autocratic tendencies. In fact, they can make decisions simply with their own best interests, disregarding the oath they took. Which brings us to Justice Kennedy’s retirement.
How could a man in moderately good health leave a position during a time when our country needs him most? More importantly, how could he do this to women? His vacancy on the highest court leaves a void that conservative groups are drooling over as they eagerly await Trump to appoint the next anti-woman, anti-choice justice. I try to see the bright side of things, but this.is a blow to women everywhere. Especially those thinking about their reproductive futures, or to put it more simply: me.
My reproductive choices have always been simple. My prescription for birth control has been given and filled for me effortlessly. The method has also been fully paid for by my insurance (thanks, Obama!). If the case of accidental pregnancy were to happen, I have also been secure in knowing that various forms of termination are available to me. There would be some hoops to jump through, but Roe v. Wade has made it my constitutional right to have autonomy over my body. With the appointment of Justice Gorsuch to SCOTUS, I knew that this right would be under attack. However, I naively thought Trump wouldn’t see another appointment in his only term and that things would go on as they were.
But another appointment of an anti-choice justice? Disastrous! The calm and collected demeanor I had in times of trouble crumbled as I got word of Kennedy’s resignation.
Goodbye, Roe. Goodbye, choice and reproductive freedom. With a court that will choose to restrict women’s rights, it is understandable that women in their early twenties to mid-thirties are concerned. And that is where I found myself this past week, full of anxiety, doubt, and worry. What will happen to my reproductive freedom in this new era of SCOTUS?
So, to alleviate some of my concerns, I did what I encourage so many of my female counterparts to do: I picked up the phone and called Planned Parenthood. Without the security I have long felt about guaranteed female healthcare in this country, I decided to begin the process of getting an intrauterine device (IUD).
For those who don’t know, IUDs are tiny T-shaped inserts, which are methods of birth control that are long-term, reversible, and offer an effectiveness rate of over 99%. After my call with Planned Parenthood, I was seen by their physician the same day and was given the device in under five days. This small piece of protection is the only thing that stands between me and my child-bearing ability for about three years. But three years from now may have us living in a very different world.
To think, that I got this life-changing device with no hassle, no overwhelming fee, and no judgment. I couldn’t believe the ease of it all and remain dumbfounded to believe the new hurdles could be thrown in the way of making this choice.
After leaving the clinic, I immediately called my younger sister and told her to schedule an appointment to begin the same process. I don’t want to think of a world where she could find herself in a position to be forced to carry a pregnancy to term if it wasn’t in her best interest. However, in this day and age, I am afraid to admit this may be our reality soon.
Before you begin to cast off my experience as extreme or hyperbolic, think about this: within the past 75 years, we’ve lived in a world where women couldn’t make their own choice regarding their bodies. They died to ensure their freedom with home abortions and many more suffered through childbearing. We thought those days were behind us, but can they not return with ease? Our country has gone back on many advances, most recently on voters’ rights and immigration restrictions. What makes you think that this would be any different? What makes you think courts and government would begin to value women when we are undermined and undervalued by the society that elects those in power?
This rather personal essay was not meant to scare but merely serve as a vehicle to encourage deep thinking among young women. I hope women in their most valuable and vulnerable years soon understand the reality they are in and take the necessary steps to ensure their freedom remains intact.