Tuesday, June 28, 2022

My Love Letter to You after Roe by Valarie Kaur

Click here for recommendations for Action:
https://valariekaur.com/2022/06/love-letter-roe/#action




For the first time in history, the Supreme Court has taken away a constitutional right. This has never happened before. I write to you now as a lawyer and mother. No matter your view on abortion, this is my love letter to you. 

First, a deep breath
We got the news that the Supreme Court had overturned Roe on a family trip to the mountains. Even though it was expected, it still felt shocking. We wept, my mother and me. Then we went into the forest as planned and visited a grove of ancient sequoias that are 2,000 years old. We saw charcoal scars from recent wildfires – and new green shoots. The trees keep going. I thought about how their roots create a hidden network beneath the soil, the mycelium, where they send one another information and nutrients. If one is hurting, the others send it support. These trees know that resilience and longevity are only possible in community. This is how we are going to survive the multiple crises we are living through now. I send you this letter through the roots. 

What's happening now
As we speak, half the states in the U.S. are enacting laws that restrict or make abortion illegal in all or most cases. Forced pregnancy will become law in many states, even, in some cases, those caused by rape and incest. Those who resort to unsafe abortions because they cannot afford to travel to another state for care are at risk of death. Black, Indigenous, and brown women will be harmed most. My dear sister and friend survived two ectopic pregnancies that would have taken her life if it weren't for abortion care. Now women who are denied the care she received – a standard remedy in her case as in many other similar cases – will die.

Miscarriages are already being investigated as murders in several states. Those who travel to other states for abortion care could face criminal prosecution and go to prison, along with the doctors who care for them. Many states are moving to restrict abortion pills in the mail, which means enforcement would only be possible with unprecedented levels of surveillance. This will impact people of color in communities already heavily policed.

What could happen next
Overturning Roe is the beginning. In their ruling, the majority argued that a constitutional right must be "deeply rooted in this nation's history and tradition." By the court's reasoning, every constitutional right that has been secured since the mid-19th century is now in question. In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas directly called for the court to eliminate the rights affirmed in Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell — the right to use birth control, the right to marry a person of our choosing, and the right for consenting adults to do as they wish in the privacy of their bedroom without being arrested or charged with crimes. In other words, this case opens the door for assaults on bodily autonomy, privacy, and liberty in the most intimate arenas of our lives. 

Why this ruling is regression
In law school, I studied Roe with my mentor Reva Siegel, one of the nation's foremost constitutional law scholars. I learned about the generations of women before me who dedicated their lives for basic freedoms. Reva calls the Court's claim to originalism a thin veil for advancing a political project that treats women as second-class citizens. For to strip away a woman's freedom to care for her own body when it matters most -— to decide when, whether, and how to bring children into the world — is to deny her intelligence and humanity. It is a failure of recognition, a refusal of dignity, a regression of the highest order. 

If you don't support abortion
I respect your position. If you believe a person begins at conception, then you likely believe abortion is killing we should prevent. But this ruling will not minimize the number of abortions. It will simply increase the number of unsafe abortions and the number of women who will die from them. Imagine all the ways we can protect life without causing more death. We can support women and mothers and parents by funding contraception and sex education, prenatal care, baby formula, paid maternity leave, paid parental leave, universal health care, universal pre-K, and on. If you are pro-life, imagine what it would mean to be on the side of life for all. 

Honor your rage
If you are angry, you are not alone. The majority of Americans believe that the choice to make a family belongs to women and pregnant people, not lawmakers. Where is rage in your body? Place your hand there. Stay with the sensation. Feel your rage. Honor your rage. Breathe into it. Where does it want to go? Choose how you want to move it — talk it, scream it, wail it, sing it. Your rage is loaded with information and energy (Audre Lorde). Together, we are going to alchemize this rage into a force the world has not seen.

The story of America is one long labor — not linear progress, but a series of expansions and contractions. I believe this massive contraction, this cruel regression, will ultimately be followed by an expansion of rights and dignity and justice — if we show up.

So what do we do?
There are thousands of ways to push that will shift culture, consciousness, policy, and power in the coming weeks and months and years— block by block, heart to heart. We don't have to do all the things. Just our thing. Together, we are a body in motion.

We will march. We will organize. We will sing. We will dance. We will make art. We will create underground networks of care. We will raise money for abortion clinics. We will build sanctuary cities. We will fight for new legislation. We will work to expand the court. We will run for office. We will win. We will teach our children. We will listen to opponents with humanity. We will speak with authenticity. We will trust the power of our stories. We will follow the lead of Black and Indigenous women who have long known how to survive unspeakable harm on this soil. In doing so, we will uncover new forms of ancestral courage and resilience — and imagination.

We must do more than resist — we must reimagine a future where every person has the bodily autonomy to choose when, whether, and how to make family and flourish.

I invite you to protect space to imagine. To focus not just on what we are fighting against, but on the world we are fighting for. When we imagine and dream together, we can begin to feel the world we want in our bodies. It becomes like a memory that we carry. It can become our North Star. Imagination needs space. Let's make space together. Remember the trees. Resilience and longevity are possible in community. 

Below is a recipe for resilience and a hymn that has become a balm for my soul, plus ways to take action.

In Chardi Kala — even in darkness, ever-rising spirits,
Valarie
Take Action
DONATE to support providers, independent clinics, and folks seeking abortion.
 
STAY INFORMED. Learn your rights, locate the nearest abortion provider, and seek legal support to protect your abortion. Share these resources with folks who need it.
 
EDUCATE yourself on how to keep your information private.
 
A recipe for resilience
Here are revolutionary love practices for this moment.
Choose what you need. Share it.

GRIEVE: What is the shape of grief in your body? If you feel the primal scream in you, this is the time to make space for healing. Let yourself touch the sorrow, rest and breathe. Don't isolate. Show up to a healing circle in your community. Organize one if needed. Go to vigils. Be with people who make you feel safe. Let in softness and love into the places that ache. Make space to just to stop -- and feel this together. 

RAGE: What is the force of rage in your body? Notice where you are constricted, tense, or numb. Now move that energy – curse, scream, shake, dance, run. Don't choke down your rage. Or let it fester. Be with people who can honor this rage and process it in safe containers. Your rage carries information – what is it telling you? You have something to fight for. You have a role to play, and no role is too small. 

FIGHT: What courageous step are you ready to take? Do not swallow the lie that nothing can be done. You have a sphere of influence. Every choice we make – every word, every action, every encounter – co-creates culture and shapes what happens next. Will you use your voice, your art, your story, your money, your power, your heart? 

REIMAGINE: What is the world you want? What does beloved community look like, feel like? We can only live into what we imagine. Protect time and space to dream and dream big. Then take one step toward that dream.

LISTEN: What do you need to approach opponents with humanity? If you are safe enough, take one step toward a courageous conversation. Lead with your story, above all. Listen for theirs. 

BREATHE: How will you breathe today? This is the work of a lifetime. Our lifetime. Take time to rest, step away from the news, nourish your body and your beloveds. Remember the wisdom of the midwife: Breathe, my love, then push. When joy comes, let it come. In joy, we presage the world to come.
 

No comments: