Written by Vibha Sazawal (she/her/hers)
When you think of a post-Roe world, are you filled with fear? Are you afraid that women’s rights will take a giant step backward? Are you afraid that bodily autonomy will be the first of many freedoms to go? Will American life become like The Handmaid’s Tale?
I do not celebrate anyone’s fear. Like other Democrats, I want people to be happy, healthy, and not afraid. Like other Democrats, I want to protect the vulnerable. I am different in that I consider fetuses one of the most vulnerable populations in need of protection. As pro-life Democrats say, “Fetuses are people; corporations are not.”
Before you angrily stop reading, please give me a chance to say this: The idea that fetuses are people does not mean that bodily autonomy is not important. Reproductive choice is still extremely important. The abortion debate is so emotional and divisive precisely because both sides are right. Everything that pro-choice advocates care about is important. However, the humanity of the fetus is also important.
How did we get here, to a Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade? Even at a record high, according to a Gallup poll, only 55% of Americans today consider themselves pro-choice. Roe was being challenged like never before, and almost half the country was uninterested in saving it. All those anti-abortion Americans are human, which means that they can be hypocritical, judgmental, and gullible at times. I know I am. But maybe they also saw a 10-week ultrasound and recognized what they saw. Maybe, like me, they believe fetal cardiac activity is strong evidence of a human life worth protecting.
What happens to women if we give fetuses the right to exist? Are forced pregnancies inevitable? No, they are not! We are not forced to choose between the status quo and The Handmaid’s Tale. There are other possible futures.
My vision for a post-Roe future looks like this:
- Universal, free access to contraception. The ACA is a tremendous step in the right direction.
- More contraceptive choices available over-the-counter.
- Free vasectomies for men.
- Scientifically accurate reproductive education in schools, including sex education and fertility awareness.
- Dramatic changes to how Americans view sex, such that consent is sacred and rape is not tolerated.
- Excuses for rape, like “slut-shaming,” are recognized as the misogynist tropes that they are.
- An increased openness to talking about sexual activities that do not lead to pregnancy.
- A voluntary decrease in reliance on alcohol at social gatherings.
- Increased support for parents in education and career settings. It should be normal for people of child-bearing age to have children. American culture should shift to support working parents over corporate profits.
- Decrease discrimination against LGBT families seeking to grow their families via adoption.
- Care and concern for people for their whole life, not just their time spent in-utero.
My proposed future may sound naive and impossible. But 50 years ago, we never would have imagined legalized gay marriage. We couldn’t even imagine restaurants without smoking sections.
Americans are so polarized that they may forget that everyone is wrong about something. Well, I’m sure that I’m wrong about some things. But it can’t hurt to talk about possible futures post-Roe. There may be a different situation in every state. Is there a future where women’s rights and fetal rights can co-exist? I believe there is.
Vibha Sazawal (she/her/hers)