The Supreme Court Looks a Lot Like the Taliban

When I first heard of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this week banning D&E late term abortion without exception to the woman’s health, it literally took my breath away. The sweeping indictment against women from this Supreme Court decision suddenly enveloped me. In one tragic stroke of the pen by these male justices – in one court decision – on this day – our lives as women were diminished.

And what does this mean for the protection of Roe V Wade and the safety of women’s right to choose an abortion without the interference of the state? It doesn’t look good. Is this a slippery slope for more outright repression of us all? The U.S. Supreme Court, obviously informed by the religious right, is looking like the Taliban.

I harkened back to Monty Python’s film the Meaning of Life where, in jest, “every sperm is sacred” was touted. Indeed, these justices obviously view women as but vessels for sperm and lacking an independent spirit. Our very lives are inconsequential to them as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg so eloquently and firmly expresses in her dissent.

I harkened back to the days of pre-abortion rights and of women dying of botched abortions in the back allies of America; of women seeking some place in the world ­ another state, another country ­ to have a safe abortion; of the discussions we all held of planning and organizing airplanes filled with women to be transported out of America for good health care and safe abortions; of integrating expansive sex education in schools and teaching young girls about every conceivable bit of safe sex information (condoms, the pill, whatever) to prevent them from incurring an unwanted pregnancy.

But I was also reminded of our long struggle in the west for women’s equality and of the international freedom movement ­ South Africa in particular. When South African women organized against the ravages of apartheid in the 1950’s, one demonstration on August 9, 1956 resounds in the annals of the international women’s freedom movement. On this day in Pretoria, South Africa, 20,000 South African women demonstrated against the repressive pass laws and to deliver petitions containing 100,000 signatures at the office door of Prime Minister Strijdom who was conveniently absent. In a freedom song especially composed for the occasion, the women chanted:

Wathint` abafazi, Strijdom!
Wathint` imbokodo uzo kufa!
Now you have touched the women, Strijdom!
You have struck a rock
(You have dislodged a boulder!)
You will be crushed

Indeed, with this Supreme Court decision a rock has been struck. We in America need to alter the South Africa chant to read:

Now you have touched the women, U.S. Supreme Court and religious right!
You have struck a rock
(You have dislodged a boulder!)
You will be crushed

These are not idle threats as women have always come to the fore to demand, seek, and, in reality, gain rights, though it’s never been easy. We in the west have always struggled against male dominance and repression as well as against religious diatribes that demean us. In the past decades, we have perhaps taken some of our gains for granted, but this Supreme Court decision should send out the clarion call for us all to rally. And this applies to men as well. As Martin Luther King said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and the South African women acknowledged this when in the Women’s Charter, developed in the 1950’s, it was stated:

“We shall teach the men that they cannot hope to liberate themselves from the evils of discrimination and prejudice as long as they fail to extend to women complete and unqualified equality in law and practice… freedom cannot be won for any one section or for the people as a whole as long as we women are kept in bondage.”

Alas, the struggle continues!!!

HEATHER GRAY produces “Just Peace” on WRFG-Atlanta 89.3 FM covering local, regional, national and international news. She can be reached at: hmcgray@earthlink.net

 

Heather Gray is a writer and radio producer in Atlanta, Georgia and has also lived in Canada, Australia, Singapore, briefly in the Philippines and has traveled in southern Africa. For 24 years she has worked in support of Black farmer issues and in cooperative economic development in the rural South. She holds degrees in anthropology and sociology. She can be reached at hmcgray@earthlink.net.

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