The vote is the essential weapon in the fight for justice


(Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part column. Click here for the first installment.)

Recently a 10 year old girl traveled from Ohio to Indiana. The trip was not fun for this child. She wasn’t going camping. Victim of rape, she was six weeks and three days pregnant.

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Ohio has banned all abortions after six weeks, the Indianapolis Star reported. Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist agreed to terminate the child’s pregnancy.

But women, non-binary people, and trans people shouldn’t rely (any longer) on getting reproductive health care in Indiana. Hoosier State is likely to “further restrict or ban abortion,” the Indianapolis Star reported. The Indiana General Assembly will address abortion in a special legislative session on July 25.

Welcome to the world according to Roe! A vital right to reproductive freedom that we have had for nearly half a century has been taken away from us.

Many of us, from people with disabilities to people of color to gay people, wonder: what other rights will be taken away from us next?

As a disabled lesbian and the daughter of a mother who had an abortion to preserve her life, the Dobbs decision is chilling in many ways. If I was too worried or alone in my fear, I would be much less afraid. But unfortunately, it’s not just me. To be free, it is vital to have choices concerning one’s body.

Historically, people with disabilities have not had autonomy over their bodies. Like immigrants and people of color, we have been sterilized – prevented from having children – without our consent.

With Dobbs, our right to choose whether or not to give birth is threatened. The Supreme Court’s decision will cause bodily harm to “far too many people with disabilities,” said Maria Town, president and CEO of the Americans with Disabilities Association, in a statement. Dobbs will be especially harmful to “low-income people with disabilities, people with disabilities of color, and people with LGBTQIA+ disabilities,” Town said. “We must do everything we can to preserve bodily autonomy and prevent further harm,” Town added.

Discomfort, fear, hostility, contempt and disgust with our bodies are the basis of homophobia and transphobia.

Sometimes it’s subtle (not a hate crime or even a gay slur, but still there). Decades ago, after my mother died, my father dated a woman who was scared of the way I dressed. “You look like a man in those jeans,” she said as if I was dressed like a serial killer.

If you’re LGBTQ, whether you’re 8 or 80, you know that homophobia and transphobia are often blatant.

Until Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision that struck down sodomy laws, gay sex was illegal even between consenting adults.

Prior to the landmark 2015 Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, we didn’t have equality in marriage.

Many queer people fear that our right to bodily autonomy – from the right to reproductive health care to the right to have sex with or marry the person we love – is now potentially in jeopardy. If only our fears were exaggerated and paranoid.

But it would be naive to believe that this is true.

The court should reconsider all of its “substantive due process precedents,” Clarence Thomas wrote in his concurring opinion in Dobbs, “including Griswold [the decision that legalized contraceptives]Lawrence and Oberfelfell.

Hope dies hard. But if you think Thomas is an outlier, you’re way too hopeful.

In the majority opinion, Samuel Alito said that Dobbs applied only to abortion. But in a 2020 speech to the Federalist Society, Alito criticized same-sex marriage. “You can’t say marriage is a union between a man and a woman,” he said, “that’s considered bigotry.”

It is important not to give in to despair. We have already fought for our rights. We know change is possible. If we want action to restore the right to abortion (and to protect our freedom to love and marry), we must vote for a Democratic Congress and Democratic state legislatures in the medium term.

Protests galvanize us and change hearts and minds.

But this Supreme Court cares little about public opinion. The Republican Party is eager to diminish our freedom — from enacting a federal abortion ban to obliterating us with “don’t say gay” laws.

It’s not sexy. You must read your ballot carefully. You might find yourself in long queues. But voting is the essential weapon in our fight for justice.

Kathi Wolfewriter and poet, is a regular contributor to The Blade.

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