They overturned Roe v. Wade on a sunny and hot Friday in June. I was taking my daughter for a haircut when the Supreme Court released its ruling declaring that our bodies were no longer ours. Roe had been the crowning achievement of my mother’s generation of activism, and it was gone—a right we’d had for 49 years erased in pages of text we saw a draft of last month. And maybe it fit that as I was losing my mother, watching her disappear into dementia, we Americans were losing our rights.
After the Dobbs decision came down, my mother called me. “I want to tweet something, but I don’t remember how to.”
“Oh,” I said. I sort of wanted to cry, but I was also sort of happy for her, that she didn’t have to deal with the exquisite pain that is reality.
“I want to tweet: Women’s rights are human rights.”
“Oh, when I come over, I’ll show you,” I said, knowing she’d forget about it by the time I got there. I was angry: at my mom for her drinking, at myself for being angry at my mom, at Justice Samuel Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Amy Coney Barrett. I was angry at Ruth Bader Ginsburg for not living longer. I was angry at Democrats for not doing more. I was angry at people for being mean to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Elizabeth Warren, because they were doing more than anyone else. I fought on Twitter with a white guy who wrote for a Never Trump news outlet. I wrote him angry direct messages and then blocked him. The next day I apologized, but I was still too angry to mean it.
I turned on cable news and was told not to worry about my other rights. Birth control was safe, the same people who once told me I was being hysterical about Roe assured me. I wanted to scream. The whole weekend, TV news continued to suggest that I was overreacting, repeating that blue states would always have reproductive freedom. I read think pieces wishcasting a future where Republicans would embrace love and take care of the thousands of teen mothers the Supreme Court had created overnight. The idea that Roe was about anything other than power was so profoundly delusional that I felt like throwing my cellphone in Central Park’s Turtle Pond. My inbox was filled with enraged friends. Girls were weeping and holding signs in Washington Square Park. A rock star listed Supreme Court justices at a concert and told them to fuck themselves. This was a seismic loss for women, but much of the media coverage—TV news in particular—was treating it like every other news cycle.
Even more than feeling angry, I felt this loss, this profound loss. It wasn’t until I read a tweet from the feminist writer Moira Donegan that I realized where it was coming from. “Every woman has been deemed lesser. Every woman has had her citizenship degraded,” she wrote. I was furious because I felt diminished. I was enraged because I knew that all of us had been deemed lesser.
When I visited my mom, I didn’t even want to bring it up. It would be too depressing. And what would it accomplish? She would just forget it again anyway. Why did I need to remind her about the thing that was wearing at me?
I sat down with my mother and stepfather in her dining room. “Oh, 1973. You’re wearing a hat that says 1973,” my mom said.
“Yes, I’ve been wearing it all weekend since the Dobbs decision came down.”
“I graduated from college in 1973.”
“No, Mom, you graduated from college in 1963. You wrote Fear of Flying in 1973.”
“That’s right. Ten years later.”
I knew Dobbs was coming in May. I’d read practically the whole thing in Politico, and yet I was completely unprepared for how it would feel. Here I am, a middle-aged, affluent white woman in a blue city in a blue state who will likely never need an abortion. I’m 43, probably too old to get pregnant, affluent enough to get on a plane if I did, and yet I can’t stop feeling like something has been stripped from me. This ruling will likely have no effect on my day-to-day life, and yet I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach. I don’t cry. And yet, I’m crying. I’m fighting with people. I’m filled with a blinding rage I can’t remember ever having in my life.
I was 24 when I got pregnant by accident. It turns out that believing you can’t get pregnant doesn’t keep you from getting pregnant. My mom had a lot of trouble having me, and I just sort of assumed that I wouldn’t get pregnant. So, of course, I did. Friends told me I didn’t have to be a hero. They told me I was nuts to think about having the baby. My mom had me at 36. I didn’t know people who had babies at 24. I knew they existed; I just didn’t know any of them personally.
But I wanted to have the baby. I was engaged to someone older who was ready to have kids, and I didn’t necessarily want to have a baby, but I also didn’t necessarily not want to have a baby.
So I had that baby, and it was the best decision I've made in my life.
But having a child completely changed the course of my life. My life immediately stopped looking like that of my peers. I didn’t go to clubs or parties. I didn’t go get an office job like some of my friends. I didn’t do any of the normal things people do in their 20s. I fell off the track that everyone else was on and I never got back on it. I was happy with my choice, but I was also glad that I had a choice.
After a weekend of seeing media outlets treat the loss of Roe like everything else, I wanted to write something about how it really feels to watch the rights of my sisters being taken away. I wanted to write something about how it feels to watch the conservative Supreme Court spit on us. I am just one voice, but I want to tell you that I hear you. I understand your rage, and I feel it too.