Roe vs Wade 2022
Roe vs Wade has always been a controversial decision. The Supreme Court in it’s 7-2 bench ruling also held that the right to abortion is not absolute and must be balanced against the “government’s interests” in protecting women’s health and prenatal life. It is not surprising then to hear British MP Danny Kruger, following the ruling, say that women did not have an absolute right to bodily autonomy because the “right is qualified by the fact that another body is involved… This is a proper topic for political debate, and I don’t understand why we are lecturing the USA on a judgement to return the power of decision over this political question to the state.”
In a 2017 interview, educator Jane Elliot summarises the gist of ‘The Birth Dearth’ by Ben Wattenberg, which speaks to the decline in white babies in America. The book was written in 1987 however, it speaks to the modern day politics of why Roe vs Wade has been overturned. It is no secret that black and brown bodies have higher rates of abortion as reported by American statistics, but some are arguing that this is because white women have always had more privilege to access private care and hence their numbers in the public systems remain low. In his book, Mr Wattenberg highlights that 60% of babies being aborted were white, a stark contrast to what we currently know.
The connection can seem far-fetched, but this has raised a lot of questions for us around the banning of critical race theory in the last two years and the rise of supporters of the replacement theory more recently. Are these two incidents separate from this ruling? Were they a build up to this moment? Some critics say this trend has already begun, highlighting that on TikTok, for example, there are users who are already talking about how terrible birth control is for one’s health and that they should reconsider such methods. We also wonder if COVID-19 contributed to this view? America experienced a devastating blow at the onset of COVID-19, with high death rates of white persons, old and young.
In another interview, Hilary Clinton highlights that Clarence Thomas, one of the five SCOTUS members that overturned Roe vs Wade, has always been aggrieved, angry and resentful at the status quo in America. Furthermore, he was cited as the instigator of the overturn and was fingered in having said there ‘are rights implied by the Constitution, such as the right to marry without restriction or the right to use birth control’ implying that these are things that need to be looked into for constitutionality. Many critics believe he might push a motion to have some of the aforementioned reversed or changed, in particular, birth control.
Neanderthals or not, this ruling unveils some deep-rooted misogyny and racism in America and the saddest part is that the rest of the world will once again be affected, to save a few.
If you are on our other socials, you might have noticed the soft launch of the PowerUp! Project. PowerUp! is a 5-year endeavour that started in 2021, led by a consortium of four women’s rights organisations: Just Associates (JASS, lead organisation), a feminist movement support organisation rooted in the Global South; Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL), a queer, Pan-African, feminist organisation; Yayasan Pemberdayaan Perempuan Kepala Keluarga (PEKKA), a national women-headed family empowerment network in Indonesia; and Gender at Work (G@W), an international feminist knowledge network.
In the first year, PU! focused on Building Power by engaging and re-engaging in-country partners to begin the process of sub-granting and project implementation in year 2. Well under way in year 2, CAL is working in 6 countries: Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tunisia and Mozambique. Sub-granting to these country collectives has begun, and the collectives will begin to implement their work plans.
Get in touch with us to link to the respective organisations in your country.
The UN mechanisms are an important platform to take part in. In this 50th session of the Human Rights Council, CAL through its membership with the Sexual Rights Initiative participated in delivering a statement on the Right to Freedom of Association and Assembly, with a particular focus on Non-Governmental Organisations and access to resources. Read our statement here or watch it below.
During one of the sessions we observed a play on language, in particular, the language of girls and undermining the rights of children by grouping them separately. Russia suggested that this would leave out boys and the abuses they face, suggesting that looking into women and girls would “other” boys as non-vulnerable. There has been a big push by various states and the mechanism itself to focus on the rights of children, dare we say there is a link with the subsequent overturn of Roe vs Wade?
While we understand that their (UN) mandate is mostly to model and encourage what is and should be right, we continue to be critical of their influence and reach, which seems to be diminishing with each session. We note with particular concern the abuses by Russia to Ukraine and the helplessness of the UN in such matters. How do we make these mechanisms stronger beyond reports and recommendations?
African Feminist Standpoint 6 (AFS #6)
We have been musing over the title of Issue 6, however, we now see the Roe vs Wade ruling as the opportune time to discuss women’s rights.
Look out for the full call for submissions on Wednesday Jul 6, 2022.
Our contributors, in Issue #5: The Cost of Freedom, did a stellar job in presenting economic justice, a topic most women understand too well. However, we at CAL fumbled in this regard, with late payments. We have since apologised to every one of our contributors and made sure they have received their dues, a situation we hope to never repeat in the future. We value all our contributors, past and present, and will continue to honour our agreements with or without resources.