A Reflection on the Election
Class of 2017
This election season was unlike any other, and many of us had no idea how it would actually turn out. As the Electoral College numbers came in Tuesday night, I began growing more and more fearful for the ultimate result: Not only were Donald Trump and Mike Pence our nation’s leaders, but the House and the Senate went Republican too. I personally have many family members and friends who identify as Republican, and I don’t want to characterize the entire Republic party as “bad,” but I feel very comfortable characterizing the current Republican platform as “bad.” In fact, “bad” doesn’t even begin to cover it. It is very hateful, very intrusive, and very scary, especially in terms of reproductive justice.
For example, the platform advocates for overturning landmark Supreme Court decisions Roe and Obergefell. However, the ever-changing President-elect Trump has already scaled back from one of these assertions, calling Obergefell “settled law.” Interestingly, Obergefell, a decision I fully support because #lovetrumpshate, was decided in just 2015. Yet Roe v. Wade, apparently not “settled law,” was decided in 1973. Why one is “settled” and the other is not is beyond me.
The platform also defines “traditional marriage” as “between one man and one woman” and as “the foundation for a free society . . . entrusted with rearing children and instilling cultural values,” as if gay and lesbian couples cannot rear children or instill their children with values.
Last (actually not at all last—go read the platform; it’s terrifying), the platform wants to strip women of all agency and choice when it comes to our own bodies. It calls for overturning Whole Women’s Health and for defunding Planned Parenthood if it “refer[s] elective abortions . . . rather than provide healthcare.” Because abortions are apparently not health care. Provided by a doctor. In a health center. It also greatly misleads the public about the “simple abortion clinic safety procedures” overturned in Whole Women’s Health. These “safety procedures” were wildly intrusive for abortion providers and only proved to be a hindrance on access to abortion; they did nothing to make it safer.
This false and condescending rhetoric about “women’s safety” can be shown for what it really is in anti-choice states’ new attempt at controlling women: fetal funerary services. Some states (Indiana, Ohio, South Carolina, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Georgia all have either tried or actually have fetal funerary services laws in place) are trying to require women to pay for funeral services for their aborted or miscarried fetuses. Funeral services. For fetuses. Whether aborted or miscarried. How is this possibly about women’s safety or women’s health? Put simply, it’s not. In fact, proponents of these laws admit it’s about forcing women to think about—and pay for—the gravity of their abortions . . . and miscarriages? It’s unclear how this law will apply to miscarriages, especially given that women often don’t know when they have one. And it should be noted that the Indiana law was pushed by none other than our fiercely anti-choice Vice President-elect, Mike Pence.
Given Donald Trump’s admittedly impressive ability to somehow reverse his stance on literally anything he has said in the past without batting an eye or raising questions, it is very unclear what his presidency will actually mean for reproductive freedom. That being said, given he has fiercely conservative, anti-choice, and even alt-right people on his team, I don’t think it matters what Trump actually wants to do. I truly don’t think Donald Trump wants to strip women of all of their rights (although maybe all of their clothes), but I don’t think that matters. He’ll have misogynistic people like Mike Pence and Steven Bannon (who, at a minimum, tacitly approved of an article titled “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy” on his charming Breitbart website) whispering sweet nothings about how women can’t be trusted in Trump’s ear.
If/When/How believes that individuals enjoy reproductive justice when they can decide if, when, and how to create and sustain a family. We will undoubtedly have to fight to make sure that our brothers and sisters can still control their bodies and make decisions for themselves about who to marry, how they want to have children (if at all), and how to support their families. We must work together because, as we all know, we are #strongertogether.
Ali Chabot, President of If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice