I was not going to write anything about this. I was simply going to rage and keep raging on my various timelines on social media. After all, I am not American nor do I live in America, nor do I have any plans of visiting America any time soon, or at this stage, ever, but I have family and friends there, who will feel the impact of this much more than I will, therefore, I am enraged.
I will preface this by talking about these images which are part of the Untitled collection of pastels from Paula Rego and was exhibited in London last year. These paintings depict women in the aftermath of an abortion. In 1998 the referendum to decriminalise abortion in Portugal failed because of low turn out, channeling her outrage Rego wanted to show the country the suffering caused by women who were forced to seek illegal abortion. In these series, women and girls are shown alone, because that is often the case, because child care is often always seen as a woman’s problem hence, pregnancy and child birth as if she did this to herself. These women are stoic and in their stoicism there is a bravery laced with shame and fear at the trauma they have suffered. It is stark and sad. Rego herself had abortions as a young woman, and she talks about the shame of it at the time; the fear and the terror.
For a few weeks now, I have had this constant migraine from screaming into the void internally because with every waking day is the news of abject catastrophe unfolding in the world at large. I have been screaming in my head about a lot of things so much so, I developed a migraine. Have you ever had an internal scream? Its maddening.
That scream came out yesterday whilst I was in my local costa getting my regular summer favourite; a summer berries cooler and a tuna toastie, planning to head to the park and enjoy the simple pleasure of a summer’s day, when the news broke that the damned supreme court in America had voted 6-3 in favour of overturning the hot button issue for Republicans that is Roe v Wade; the right for a woman to choose whether or not to have an abortion. This right has been protected for fifty years since the landmark ruling. Fifty years. And yesterday six supreme court justices; five men and one woman overturned this protection in federal which essentially makes it a matter for states to legislate and decide upon. And wouldn’t you know it; the red states have started stripping down these rights. In Louisiana or Kentucky or both, regardless of circumstance of how she came to be pregnant, a woman has no right to abort a child. It doesn’t matter whether you were abused or rape. If you were raped at gun point, the gun is more protected than the woman who is the victim.
Are you screaming too? I thought so.
That this happened should not be surprising; we saw it coming from a long time ago; further back than when the ruling document was leaked to the press a few weeks back. We saw it coming from when Hillary Clinton told us so in 2016. We saw it coming when Joe Biden, yes lovable, ice cream eating POTUS Joe Biden tore Anita Hill apart during the hearing to clear Clarence Thomas for one of the Justices of the supreme court; Thomas is one of the six and but also, he intends to go further; gay marriage, contraception… but stops short at Loving because he is married to a white woman. We saw it when Barrack Obama campaigned on codifying Roe v Wade in the constitution but then upon entering office decided that this was not so high on his list of priorities because he took for granted the steely determination of the Republicans. The Freedom of Choice Bill could have helped starve off the lunatics on the right because it would codify Roe v Wade. But the world was in a deep recession at the time so priorities could have wavered but damnit man! This needed to happen. Democrats do not deserve the votes that are gifted to them by an electorate that they continue to let down.
We saw it coming when RBG kept girl bossing into her 80s and did not step down to make way for Obama to appoint a justice to fill her seat; a democrat who would likely have given us 5-5 decision; instead her seat was take up by the Christian conservative that is Amy Coney Barret; one of the six. Listen, I have a lot of time for RBG’s legacy and service and achievement, but she should have given way. I am firmly of the opinion that public and elected office should never be for a lifetime appointment. People in their twilight should never be tasked with making laws for the future generations; there ought to be a cap. This may not be popular opinion but between Brexit and this, we are in hell, hell from the older generations who have been the ones to vote or enable a vote on such issues.
We saw it when Donald Trump delivered on his edict and elected THREE supreme court justices all red-blooded right-wing lunatics; all three of whom are part of the six. All three of whom on their hearing pledged not to upend Roe v Wade because it was in their words “settled law”. All three. Can we sue them?
However, whilst the right can be blamed; they ran a long game and got their objectives; delivered a country ruled by nut jobs on the right who believe the moon is made of cheese and who think children should be taught shooter drills in the class room and will likely heap blame on the children for not avoiding their own deaths at the hands of a gun man; I mean look at the narrative, they come pretty close to it already. America decided it was okay for children to die by guns than for gun ownership to be regulated because second amendment trumps the right to life… but wait! that right to life only goes so far because a woman’s right to her life has no such importance and is of little value.
The left waged culture wars on terms and gender, the right sat back and watched them work themselves right into a tizzy. The left could never come together to decide on anything; the English have a saying; “couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery” and the left simply could not. The internal wars and the high ground morality has proven time and again to be their undoing. They never take anything seriously, they try to appease a new leaning liberal mentality in a largely conservative world, everything for them had to happen now, there was no effort on slow and steady, eyes on the prize, it is always all or nothing; the baby and the bath water. Another English analogy and I could go on and on about how the left fucked itself up and brought us to the cliff and then pushed us off.
Their argument: we may be bad, but we are not as bad as them.
The other guys; yes, we are bad, and we know it and there isn’t a damn thing you can do to stop us.
We all know how teenagers favour the bad boys. We simply never stopped being teenagers because the bad guys have won.
There is no statutory maternity leave in America.
There is no universal health care in America.
There is no paid family leave in America.
There is no paid maternity leave in America.
America has one of the highest maternal mortality rates among G7 countries.
This is not about protecting a foetus; it is about control because you simply cannot maintain the status quo of inequity if you do not control the access to infrastructures that can aid the wider population. The right needs a working population to uphold capitalism and for that to happen women become a vessel upon which such control is maintained, by stripping them of their rights to making a choice in ways that affect them.
The barbarians are now in charge, they are the religious fanatics who are the worst of humanity; we cannot be a world governed by religious principles because religion by practise is restrictive. America can no longer claim to be the land of the brave or home of the free because there is nothing brave or free about sending women to their deaths. It is barbaric.
I probably sound all over the place, and that’s because twenty-four hours later, I am still so damn mad. The state of the world at large, but mostly about this right now because it is personal, and I feel it so viscerally for women;
Women who will not be able to travel to have an abortion.
Women of colour.
Women from different socio-economic backgrounds.
Abuse victims who, because of this ruling will now be forced to make a choice that is more than likely going to be the death of them.
This decision by the supreme court to abdicate its responsibilities, is more than just the issue of abortion, it is a matter of life and justice especially for women who will be the victims of these draconian laws and the patriarchy, that seek to control our bodies.
I feel it on a personal level because it is women who will suffer this the most. I am a woman who stands in solidarity with her fellow women even if some of you lot are clapped in the head.
Are you screaming yet?