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When Roe v Wade became law back in 1973, I was in my last year of law school. For those of you who have read my first book Truth Heals, a national bestseller, you know I wasn’t in a good place emotionally, having been sexually assaulted by my father since early childhood.

But, given my youthful experiences with sexuality, by the time I reached the age of consent, I certainly realized the immense power that sexuality held over men, and I used mine to pole vault higher and faster than many of the men in my class. (There were very few women in law school at the time)

I knew the key to power wasn’t just brains and good grades. I knew that short skirts, and more, would aid men in positions of power to help me up the corporate ladder. I eventually outgrew the technique when cancer came calling at age 25, and I realized that what Daddy had taught me was on course to kill me.

In my earlier years, I suppose (and I confess my unwillingness to admit this) I wasn’t terribly different from notable powerful men who flaunt their sexuality, men like Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.

But of course, the rules are different for men

Men’s excesses – even when blatantly coercive and unsought — are explained and excused as “young men simply sowing their wild oats,” innocent of any true intention to subjugate their conquests, while I was enlisting my sexuality as a useful tool to get ahead. I remember well my mother excusing the boys and men in our family for any indiscretions, with her offhand “boys will be boys” remarks. Men can use their bodily autonomy to press their power and manhood, no matter the cost to the women they mistreat, while I was negotiating with men who knew exactly what they wanted. (For me, it was Let’s Make a Deal, as opposed to Let’s Take From Women What We Want!)

Imagine what could have become of me had I become pregnant during the times I was “negotiating” my way to early career success, had there been no Roe v Wade ruling to ensure another medically safe way to set myself free of the results of my father’s early training? I would have had to drop out of law school and the trajectory of my life would have taken a tumble that may well have been impossible to recover from.

Fortunately, I never had to make such a gut-wrenching decision due to my bodily autonomy, but millions of women have, and I am firmly in their court because I could have ended up standing in their shoes, and I know it would have been a dismal and shame-inducing decision, no matter which way I decided. I would have felt obligated to hide that decision from nearly everyone else for my entire life.

My story isn’t unique. A friend of mine back then was able to get a medically safe, legal abortion when she needed one, thanks to Roe v Wade. She went on to have four children later in life after she could afford to raise them. (Her husband, a freelance illustrator, raised the children while she brought home the bread and bacon that sustained them all those early years, before his career took off.) She does not regret her early abortion decision.

The Defining Difference

For men, youthful indiscretions get “attaboys” in this patriarchal culture, while sexually active women get branded as “sluts,” “gold diggers,” “seductresses,” or “party girls.”

This twisted and bizarre prevailing attitude — that men should be able to do whatever they want with their bodily autonomy, but if what they do results in a pregnancy, then the women they impregnate should carry their pregnancies to term — has brought us perilously close to losing our precious (and hard-fought) right to remain the masters of our fate. Are you aware that, already, in 31 states, rapists can gain visitation or custody rights to the children produced by their felonious conduct? Can you imagine the emotional upheaval that rulings like these cause the female victims of their violent acts? It’s enough to turn your stomach.

If “settled law” can be overturned (which the present majority of Supreme Court Justices deemed Roe v Wade to be during their confirmation hearings, but have since conveniently forgotten), so can marriage equality, the rights of LGBTQIA+ folks, and even women’s voting, credit card, and property-owning rights.

We already see what’s being done right now to keep people of color from voting in so many states. Individual “settled case” human rights laws which are subsequently deemed by the powers to be “federal overreach” are also on the chopping block. Where will it all end? I shudder to think.

Suddenly, Margaret Atwood’s description of a society in which women fall under the total control of autocratic white men, as seen in the TV series, The Handmaid’s Tale, appears to be on the cusp of coming to life, step by calculated step.

The right to bodily autonomy, as determined by the Roe v Wade decision in 1973, is a single domino. But watching it fall into additional human rights dominoes will be our undoing. We are an exceedingly fragile democratic republic. It’s rulings like these that will determine our ability to remain so. Autocracy is waiting in the wings to replace what we’ve been on course to correct and perfect for hundreds of years.

If Roe v Wade is Overturned

If the pending decision can’t be overturned, there needs to be an immediate outcry over the three most recently appointed Supreme Court Justices who intentionally misled Congress on their way to their present positions.

Additionally, there needs to be the first steps toward an increase in the number of Supreme Court Justices which a President who is in touch with the wishes of the American people can put into place to counteract the extremist positions that threaten women’s rights to bodily autonomy.

Something to consider: Establishing mandatory vasectomies for unmarried, financially insecure men would violate bodily autonomy, too — no one gets pregnant without sperm — and I don’t see a single law on the books, or pending, that subjects men to any such responsibility constraints. What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander. That’s what equality is all about.

And — parenthetically — why is the Equal Rights Amendment still not the law of the land? Is it because equality scares men who want to control women’s bodies and fates? It’s time to push back.

The Supreme Court has recently been barricaded against a potential backlash

The Capitol police are anticipating fired up women doing what the former president’s mostly-male adherents did in Washington D.C on January 6th, 2021. If ever there was sufficient justification for such an action, this might be it. But invasion and violence aren’t options; they just inflame and solidify positions.

Consider Laci Wooten-Holway who has been bravely protesting outside Brett Kavanaugh’s home. She is going it alone (usually) and she is being both applauded and vilified.

She is taking a terrible chance. 

But it is long past time — for those of us who believe that women should not be dictated to when it comes to their bodily autonomy — to take some terrible chances, and I applaud her courage.

With Laci’s courageous, unilateral act in mind, I encourage those of you who can, to show up at local and regional protests in your area. There are many happening in the next few days. Here is a link to help you find out more about them. The protests started on Mother’s Day and will go for a week. I urge you to join one near you. Do a search on “Roe V Wade protests” and your zip code to find the one(s) nearest you.

And join me on Facebook where you can comment on a post and thus stand up and be counted.

The Bottom Line

Every child who is born should be wanted, cherished, and adequately supported by their parents. Sadly, if Roe v Wade is overturned, unwanted and inadequately supported children will be the result. I simply can’t imagine a worse fate for them, or for the world.

There are enough humans already, and far too many of them already feel marginalized, abandoned, and hopeless. Overturning Roe v Wade will only compound the tragedy.

If you’re with me on this crucial issue, please don’t sit this one out.

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