It’s been a tough week for women in America. The leaked draft Supreme Court opinion on overturning Roe v. Wade illustrates how conservatives want to treat women as powerless vessels for the children they carry. This perspective destroys women’s rights to make decisions on behalf of their own selves, bodies, and best interests. It gives those in power (predominantly men) the right to force women to bear children even if the women were raped or fetuses endanger women’s lives.
It endangers the life of every woman of childbearing age. In some cases, it also endangers every person who helps such women. I’m sure some will say I go too far in stating this, but that’s the way I view what I’m reading about the various nefarious state-level abortion bans already in place in half the (formerly) United States of America. In starkest terms, it’s a power grab by men over women. Yes, not every man wants this, but many do.
Though I am past child-bearing age, I have numerous family members and friends impacted by this controversy. I am also personally impacted because Justice Alito is basically saying that what isn’t specifically protected by name in the Constitution isn’t protected at all. That’s the way it’s being discussed by legal experts. And here’s the kicker: the Constitution was written by and for white men. That means Alito is saying the rest of us have no rights at all. Women’s rights mean nothing. We are powerless, clinging to a cliffside in dangerous weather.
Alito’s Italian-immigrant parents, as I’ve learned in my antiracism studies, would not have been considered citizens by America’s “founding fathers.” Yet he ascended to a position of power and now dares to deny full personhood (in the form of personal agency to control what happens to our own bodies) to more than half the population of this country. It is appalling. It is terrifying. It is also a trend across the world, where 70 percent of the world’s population now lives under a dictatorship—and as I’ve noted before, empires kill love.
I don’t have answers for all this. I struggle to find hope. But I keep showing up. A few days ago, I led a session on “Psalming our Disorientation” for a group of religious leaders on sabbatical. I invited them to write psalms of lament. I wrote some too. Here’s one of them.
O God, men crush women again,
in Afghan villages,
of their mothers’ pains.
Yet you are holy.
You invited women to bear
hope in hopelessness.
You taught women perseverance
You welcomed women
at the foot of your cross.
What do you lament today? What’s your perspective on women’s lives?