If you’re going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill
Fair warning – I got about one hour of sleep last night.
I woke up in a cold sweat, literally swinging my arms to fight the imaginary people who were trying to force me and the other faceless women around me into submission.
It was a nightmare.
But it wasn’t a dream.
I live in Missouri.
So this week, I’ve fielded concerned e-mails, sympathetic texts and outraged Facebook messages from folks across the country who just can’t believe that my state legislature would be so cruel as to ban abortion at 8 weeks – even in cases of rape and incest.
They’re shocked that anyone with a heart or a brain would force women to endure the minute-by-minute physical and emotional torture of pregnancy by assault. Or the horror of learning that the child you desperately wanted won’t survive – but not having any options to consider. No choices, no way out.
We’re animals to be caged, with no right to reason and no means of escape.
I’m not surprised at all.
I’m not surprised that the party that has a supermajority in the Missouri state legislature and every statewide office except Auditor (stay strong, Auditor Galloway!) would force itself on us women for political points, while its leader exploded in tears of joy.
But while I’m not surprised about what they’ve done, I am surprised that some people are surprised, so let’s talk about that for a quick second.
The Republican party in my state – and in the nation, I’ll add – has not been shy about what it wants to do. More guns, less taxes. More voting restrictions, less environmental protections. And above all – the holiest of holy grails – overturning Roe v. Wade.
They have not been coy, folks. They are quite serious, and have been for a very long time. In fact, they’ve been working this strategy for decades. They’ve been focused, dedicated, dogged in their pursuit of this one main issue.
They’ll do anything to win. They’ll not just bend rules – they’ll break them. They’ll upend democracy. They’ll steal a Supreme Court seat. They’ll pack courts. They’ll spew gruesome lies to their red-meat-loving base.
Truth, schmuth. Democracy, schmocracy. They don’t care. Win at all costs, honor and integrity be damned.
So shouldn’t their ruthless pursuit of the issue have been a pretty good indicator that they really were – and really are – serious?
Or folks could have just listened to the experts. Pro-choice advocates have been screaming from the rooftops for years that this was coming. They’ve been warning that we needed to elect leaders who respect our agency and don’t treat us like dolls. (Or cattle – at this point, it’s unclear what the right analogy would be.)
They’ve been pointing at the state legislatures in Missouri, and Georgia, and Alabama, and sounding the alarms, pounding the drums: Pay attention, it’s coming. It’s coming, pay attention…
Didn’t anyone listen?
Of course, I know you were listening. But on the news and in the media, this weekend I continued to see either real or feigned shock that bills prohibiting me from deciding what happens to my own flesh-and-bone body had actually passed in three separate states, each of which has GOP-majority state legislatures. Gasp!
And I just really wonder where this surprise comes from. Because I live here in Missouri, where it’s so real and so tangible and so everyday-matter-of-fact that now it shows up even in my sleep. (I say as I type-type-type away here on the couch at 2:11 AM.)
So when I hear well-intentioned people say very passionately from an east coast television studio “We will not go back! We will not go backwards!” I just shake my head. Because from where I’m sitting, we have.
This attack on my rights is not theoretical to me – or to other women living in states like mine.
So stubbornly staring down the reality that some states have actually gone back, and refusing to validate the very real situation that millions of women like me are now facing is just … insulting.
Ignoring the problem has not worked. Pretending that it would go away has not worked. Shouting that we will not go back has not worked. Pacifying women by proclaiming “But it can’t be enforced (yet)!” won’t work.
What will work, what always works, is concentrated, deliberate, strategic action from tens of millions of people like you.
It worked for them, you know. It worked for them like a charm.
Now it must be our time again.
Let’s get to work.
P.S. Get some good sleep, okay?
Actions for the week of May 21
Tuesday: Hit the Streets for Women
Today across the country there are national protests to #StopTheBans. Check https://www.stopabortionbans.org to find one near you. Many of them are happening mid-afternoon, so check the site early!
Extra credit: The Trump administration is obstructing justice, full stop. With Congressional subpoenas being defied left and right, there really is no denying what’s happening, and our leaders need to actually … you know … do something about it. So today, please call your congresscritters and tell them that you see this obstruction happening in real time and you want to know what they’re doing about it!
Wednesday: Join the ACLU for a tele-town hall
The ACLU will be having a tele-town hall to discuss what they are doing to protect abortion access and women’s civil rights. On the call will be Jennifer Dalven, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project Director, and Brigitte Amiri, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project Deputy Director.
|EVENT:||ACLU Tele-Town Hall: Protecting Reproductive Rights|
|DATE:||Wednesday, May 22|
|TIME:||1:30-2:30 pm Pacific / 4:30-5:30 pm Eastern|
|TO JOIN:||Toll-free Call-in Number: (888) 205-6786 |
Thursday: No Congress, No War
The President of the United States is NOT supposed to be able to go out and pick fights and cause wars whenever s/he wants to. That’s supposed to be Congress’s job. Unfortunately, they signed that job over to the executive in the early 2000s in the post-9/11 days to address terrorist threats. The problem is, the executive branch has taken that baton and run like hell.
With Trump in the White House, we have a serious, serious problem.
Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ___. Please ask the Senator/Congress(wo)man to co-sponsor S. 1039/HR 2354 to deny Trump the authority to go to war with Iran without Congressional approval. It’s important that Congress reclaims its Constitutional duty to declare war to make sure our country doesn’t go to war based upon the decision of one person.
Friday: Support Candidates that Support Choice
We can’t change policy if we don’t change who represents us. That means prioritizing support of pro-choice candidates and being vocal about support for pro-choice organizations.
If you want to support candidates, at first blush that might seem tough mid-cycle. But now is prime recruiting time, folks! Contact your local Democratic leaders – even the leadership of your state party – and demand that they prioritize choice in finding candidates. Look around your community and see those people (women, in particular) who you know are advocates and allies, and encourage them to run. Explain the stakes and show your support!
And if you’re in Missouri, I have good news! Head over to www.itstarts.today/missouri_pro-choice, which is a monthly donation program that funds only those Democratic nominees for Missouri state legislature that have been endorsed by NARAL or Planned Parenthood. (Full disclosure – I’m the co-founder… so, you know, I’m a little biased. But I think it’s awesome and a complete game-changer!).