June was supposed to be a month of commemorating struggles for freedom with Juneteenth and Pride. But then on the last Friday of the month, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which dialed back freedoms for women and anyone who can get pregnant.
JMA is fighting for freedom for workers by giving them a voice on the job. Workers who must endure unsafe jobs, jobs with bad or nonexistent healthcare plans, and jobs that limit the time they spend with their families certainly don’t have freedom over their bodies and lives. Through our work winning CBAs, we hold companies accountable to creating good, family-sustaining jobs that provide the freedom of a full life.
But we also need to pay attention to threats to workers’ autonomy outside the workplace. The Supreme Court’s decision eliminates the freedom we should have to decide what’s best for our own bodies when it comes to pregnancy, especially in a country that has the highest maternal mortality rate out of all developed countries.
JMA’s employees were devastated by the announcement last Friday, and shared some reflections on what this means for our country:
Angela Dawson, Mississippi Community Engagement Coordinator:
“When I heard the ruling, it was shocking. Even with the stacking of conservative judges on every level of our judicial system, I was shocked. Even after seeing the leaked decision ahead of time, I was shocked, and then I was shocked that I was actually shocked, then I got pissed.
Why should I be surprised that the last state to get rid of a confederate emblem on its flag would be at the center of the very law that literally set us back 50 years? As I watched my fellow Mississippians cheering in the streets because ‘children’s lives will be saved. We did this for the children.’ Let me tell you what else Mississippi has done ‘for the children:’ Mississippi has a 19.6% poverty rate, and is one of the hungriest states in the nation. One in four children go hungry here. No one is passing bills to assist parents to lessen the strain, but it’s all for the kids, right? Our teen pregnancy is sky high! When children are born to poor parents they are guaranteed a top notch education, right? No, Mississippi is the least educated and has the highest infant mortality rate in the country. Women literally die giving birth because the nearest hospital is at least 40 miles away.
Religion has played a large yet hypocritical role in this decision. We do not take care of our poor, sick, young, elderly, hungry, or imprisoned. Someone please tell me how they skipped over these things, if they ever stopped beating the Bible long enough to actually read it. How can a state that claims to be so religious force a victim of rape to bear her rapist’s child? How can you look into the confused eyes of a girl who is pregnant by a male family member that molested her? And to top it off, this decision was made by men like Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Donald Trump who are all accused of one or more forms of sexaul assault.”
Berenice Thompkins, New Jersey Campaign Organizer:
“What saddens me most about this decision is that our culture and political system seem to be much more invested in punishing people–specifically women, trans and gender nonconforming folks—who try to assert any level of control over our own bodies than punishing the powerful, wealthy, white men who hurt us and take away our agency. As a result of this ruling, people will likely be imprisoned for seeking abortion care. Meanwhile, men like Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas and Trump not only remain completely unpunished and unaccountable for their abusive behavior, but we continue to grant them the power to run this entire country and make decisions like this one on behalf of all of us.”
Andre Steele, Illinois Lead Organizer:
“Since 1973, Roe v. Wade protected a woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion. Now in 2022 we are back to the prior conditions but at higher stakes, with the country in turmoil with COVID-19 pandemic, a recession, white supremacy, people of color getting incarcerated in alarming numbers and murdered by police, and now this court decison from the Supreme Court. These are some really dark and sad times.
The Me Too movement is fresh in my mind. I have daughters, sisters, niecies and granddaughters. Most of them are very young. It’s bad enough that the system doesn’t do a very good job keeping the predators in check. I was already concerned for the safety of women falling, but now with this decision things are going to be dark times again. I’m just thinking about some of the things people had to do prior to 1973 to choose not to have a baby, and some of the horrible things that women had to do or what they have to live with for not having a choice to make decisions about their own bodies. I’m very concerned for Generation Z and the future of women in America, as well as others who fought hard to have rights through the labor movement, civil rights movement, and the movement for LGBTQ rights.
If I had to say what’s the core issue of this big problem that we have in the U.S. is racism, greed and, most importantly, that we lack voters on all levels to combat some of these dark laws that keep appearing. The solution is to continue to organize around all of these issues, such as the federal spending of tax dollars and labor organizing. We need to get out the vote on all levels of government.”