Roe v. Wade has protected the right to a safe and legal abortion for nearly half a century. Over and over again, conservative Supreme Court nominees proclaimed Roe “settled law,” signaling to the American people that, on their watch, Roe would not be overturned. But now a draft opinion reveals that five justices believe this is their moment to strike down this “settled law,” permitting states to criminalize anyone who seeks an abortion, performs an abortion, helps someone find an abortion, or even has a miscarriage.
Yes, I’m angry. I’m angry at the justices who deliberately deceived the American people. I’m angry at the Republicans in Congress who stole two Supreme Court seats to get us to this day. And I’m angry at the cruelty of the anti-abortion politicians who will impose enormous pain, suffering, and possible death on people who have the fewest resources to fight back.
The minute Roe is officially gone, more than half the states in this country are poised to outlaw abortion or severely limit abortion access. If abortion is outlawed, the impact won’t fall equally on everyone. Wealthy women will still get safe, legal abortions by flying to another state or even traveling to another country.
But the world will be very different for those who have the least power: low-income women, young women, women of color, victims of incest and abuse, moms already working two jobs to support their children. This far-right, extremist Supreme Court doesn’t care if Americans suffer; they are hellbent on imposing their views on all of us.
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For me, this isn’t about politics; this is personal. I have lived in a world where abortion was illegal. I learned early on that when the law bans all abortions, only safe and legal abortions will be banned. I lived in a world in which women bled to death from back alley abortions. A world in which infections and other complications destroyed women’s futures. A world in which some women took their own lives rather than continuing with a pregnancy they could not bear. For decades, expanded access to abortion has allowed people to make decisions about their own bodies and lives, promoting equity and access to life-changing opportunities. But these extremist justices on the Supreme Court want to send us back to those dark days and take away women’s rights to control their own futures.
Changes in abortion laws will have dire consequences. In Texas, a young woman was charged with murder for an alleged self-induced abortion. (The charges were later dropped.) In Oklahoma, a new law would force a 12-year-old survivor of rape to bear the child of her predator. In Louisiana, Republicans are pushing for the most extreme bill yet, which would classify abortion as a homicide and could even criminalize using certain forms of birth control. And Republican politicians won’t stop at criminalizing abortion. They have already signaled that a Republican-controlled Senate would pursue a nationwide ban on abortion care.
Let me be crystal clear: Republicans in Congress are planning to restrict abortion access and reproductive health care everywhere, endangering all Americans, whether they live in red, blue, or purple states. And it is equally clear that the Supreme Court is opening the door to banning birth control, outlawing marriage equality, and even making interracial marriage illegal.
American freedoms and the Constitution itself are under attack. The Republicans have planned long and hard for this day, and we can’t wait a second longer to fight back. We need action.
The Supreme Court does not get the last word. The American people—through their leaders in Congress—can and must take action. Congress has the power to make Roe the law of the entire nation. The House has already passed legislation to shield abortion rights, and the Senate will take up the bill this week. We should debate that bill on the floor and then vote on it—because every American should know exactly where we stand and hold us accountable. But to get that vote and protect Roe, we must end the filibuster. This November, Americans will decide the future of Roe, and voters everywhere must bring their fury to the voting booth.
Yes, I’m angry that a group of unelected ideologues on the Supreme Court think they can turn current law upside down and dictate to tens of millions of people across this country the terms of their pregnancies and their lives.
I will use my anger to do everything I can to keep an extremist Supreme Court from having the last word on the right to a safe and legal abortion. In a democracy, that power is in the hands of the people. We need to use our anger to make real change. We’re not going back—never.
Elizabeth Warren is the senior United States senator from Massachusetts.
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