** Please be advised that the word ‘fuck’ appears in this post. If you are of a sensitive nature, then tbh that’s the least of your worries right now. **
Roe vs. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court on Friday June 24th, 2022, aka the day I turned 35. Up until around 10am that day I was thinking about how I could no longer say that I was in my early to mid-thirties. I am now, I thought, firmly in my mid-thirties. I like getting older (for the most part) because with each passing year I give fewer fucks about the things that aren’t important. The Big D in Deb is one step closer to standing for big Demeanor, I thought. I have my celebratory mimosa in one hand, baby in the other, and it’s a great day.
Then I get a text from a friend; “Well, there we go, Roe overturned.”
And so began the barrage of unwelcome emotions, fundraising text messages, liberal despair, and hot takes. The rest of the day was filled with only one thought: Fuck you. We – meaning those of us who care about reproductive justice – had lost a game that we didn’t even know we were playing. We’d brought naivety to a gun fight and were left trying to stem the bleeding with protest signs. On top of all that, the visual thinkers among us were ambushed with the likes of Kavanaugh and Alito parking their big Mack trucks right in our little garages. Fuck you for that, as well.
It's not fair to say that all of us – us meaning those of us who care about women and everyone else who can get pregnant – were tied up and surprised. Lots of people were paying attention and knew full well that this anti-choice debate had nothing to do with the rights of the unborn. It is and always has been about control and power. It’s also not fair to call it a game when in fact this is an all-out war on Women And the Poor, or WAP, as I’ll refer to it from here.
As some wise people have pointed out, not every ejaculation needs a last name. But it doesn’t matter what the precedent is, the public health evidence, or even what most of the country actually wants, because the anti-choice army are certified freaks, seven days a week, for their war on WAP. WAP is the first thing on their mind every morning and the last thing they think about before they close their blinkered eyes.
Why the obsession with WAP, you ask? Because women and people who are kept poor (often one and the same) are the backbone of our economy, communities, health care and education systems, and so must be kept ‘in their place’ at all costs. If you’re not quite sure what WAP has to do with access to abortion, then you should google it or start here.
But what about the women on the steps of the Supreme Court out in public, making a scene, celebrating the end of the federal right to reproductive healthcare? Or the poor people who vote against their interests? It makes no sense to me, but when your idea of family planning is to cross your fingers and hope your pullout game’s not weak, what do you expect?
Now that we’ve all woken up to the reality that the war is not a game, there’s much talk about what action to take. Lawyers look busy, Democrats look disappointed, and young people look livid, but hope is hard to come by. One place that I have found hope is in the grassroots and underground activist communities that have been fighting for access to abortion in places where this basic healthcare has been illegal for a long time. Groups like Las Libres in Mexico saw this ruling coming and have been getting ready to help their sisters across the border, even when their neighbor is less than gracious in return.
'It's Time For Plan C', 2022, gouache on brown paper, 4 x 4 inches. Available for sale in white frame with mat, overall size 7 x 7 x 0.75 inches. Painting available here.
When I’m confused, outraged, or depressed, I paint because my therapist tells me it’s a better choice than drinking. I sometimes agree and, on this occasion, it led to a painting called ‘It’s Time For Plan C’, inspired by the work of Verónica Cruz Sánchez (founder of Las Libres) and a project called Plan C sponsored by the National Women’s Health Network.
It features five forget-me-nots – the flower of remembrance, true and eternal love, and devotion – each with an ‘abortion pill’ at their center holding the words ‘We Take Care Of Us’. In place of their usual true blue and yellow, these flowers are shades of green, which is the color adopted by Argentinian activists nearly 20 years ago as the “symbol of hope, health, and life.”
The phrase ‘We Take Care Of Us’ is an acknowledgement that the courts have never been there to protect WAP and that now is the time to turn to those who are experienced in the mutual aid model of community assistance. The number five is significant because it’s the number of abortion pills you take to end an unwanted pregnancy (if both mifepristone and misoprostol are available). I also have hand painted cards available of the same design.
Hand painted blank greeting cards, 4 x 6 inches, with kraft paper envelope. Cards available here.
Evidence shows us that the people who will be affected the most by the overturning of Roe vs. Wade are the most vulnerable in society, but we say that they are NOT forgotten. We’ve lost this fight, but we’re not looking for another beating. It’s time for progressives to put away the garden snake and release the king cobra. By the time we’re finished with our compassionately challenged adversaries they’ll need a bucket and a mop for their tears.
And a message to the 'pro-life generation' – I hope you get your boots and your coat and head on down to the 2nd Defend Black Women Rally & March on Saturday July 30th, because not turning up really steps on your ‘pro-life’ point.