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Our Rights Taken, For Granted

MY THOUGHTS - In the sixties, I was 21 years old, married and had a full-time job as an Associate Editor on a small trade magazine. 

My husband had to co-sign my application (he would be financially responsible), for me to get a credit card in my name.  When I would attend meetings and conferences by invitation, they would think I was the secretary and “Denyse” was a fancy way of spelling Dennis. 

Now, we proudly teach our girl children that they live in a time where they can become almost anything they want.  Some of us talk about what it was like growing up in the fifties and sixties which is either received with WTF or “I can’t believe you had to go through that!” 

Monday evening’s “scoop” from Politico publishing the “draft” opinion authored by Justice Alito and laying out in a non-empathetic 90 odd page document why Roe v Wade should never have passed, has shaken up several generations of women, and I bet a large majority of men. 

The rights and decisions that have been taken for granted for almost fifty years are suddenly being questioned.  Surely the Millennials are scratching their collective heads and wondering if everyone older is on LSD.  

I must admit it had an impact on my week.  I knew there was a chance, but honestly with all the really awful problems in the world…and especially in this country, why would control of a women’s sex life and decision-making ability, become the worst travesty in our country’s legislative life? 

We have been cautioned that this was a preliminary Supreme Court draft from February. It will undoubtedly have many changes before the final decision is handed down in June.  It does expose the fact that three of the newest Justices and Alito were not exactly truthful in their confirmation hearings.  We also learn that there are no official ethical standards to which Supreme Court judges must adhere.  For the majority of Americans, who have always held the court in high esteem and judged it as a non-political body, this was a real blow. 

Just when we naively thought there was light at the end of the tunnel and things couldn’t get any worse…they do!  New variants of Covid keep showing up.  The war in Ukraine is bringing us ever closer to World War III.  The stock market has its own version of COVID; inflation is at the highest it has been in 40 years; and the polarization in this country politically and culturally is so dispiriting – it’s hard to have hope. 

Why the leak now?  There are various theories.  The great all-knowing philosopher Senator Ted Cruz, stated on camara that it was probably some “lib law clerk” who wanted to generate controversy and they should be fired and imprisoned. I don’t think there is a written law that says the Supreme Court cannot share drafts of upcoming decisions with the public.  It’s just “precedent”.  The three government branches are supposed to be equal, and anyone can access laws being prepared for Congressional mark-up.   Deflecting from the content of the draft and emphasizing the “disgrace” of the leak itself, the Republican leaders are trying to change the subject. 

We probably won’t know who leaked and why, till someone writes a “tell all “book.  Both sides have gained advantages and disadvantages, and each is using the leak as a fund-raising tool. The outcry across the country has been welcome.   There have been results of various polls that show anywhere from 54-70 % of the American people do not want Roe v Wade to be terminated.  Naturally the higher percentage of those most bothered are the Millennials, the most affected age group.  

In the last general election, polls were discovered to be sometimes less than accurate.  I surveyed my own focus group to see if the most affected generation of women had any thoughts.  Here is the summary of the answers I received categorized by geography and age group.  Admittedly it is a very exclusive poll, and the poll takers are genetically related to me, but the young women queried were a most diverse group. 

What I found both interesting and hopeful was the feelings were unanimous whether it came from Ohio, California or New Jersey.  My poll taker in Ohio wanted us to know that even her friends who were residents of Ohio agreed.  It was not a matter of geography. 

Millennials have been described as apathetic towards government.  Perhaps they are disillusioned with promises not able to be kept by this Administration.  This latest jolt really hits home and hopefully galvanizes them to get out the vote. 

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA MID TWENTIES- already working in their first or second jobs. 

“The news is nothing short of gut wrenching. To think we and many people close to us, could lose bodily autonomy is terrifying. When we think of overturning Roe v Wade, many of us don't think about the possible repercussions down the line. Losing this comes with the possibility of losing right to privacy -which could challenge right to contraception, same -sex marriage rights and more. 

“This is one step of many for women, who are over half the population, losing even more rights. This is a direct threat to freedom”. 

 WEST COAST COLLEGE SOPHOMORES 

“We are just shocked that this could even be happening now, and the idea that we are not in control of decisions regarding our bodies is horrifying.” 

MID-WEST COLLEGE JUNIORS 

It is definitely very stressful for women in Ohio now that Roe v Wade might be found illegal, and the Trump endorsed Senate candidate won the Republican primary this week.  Many of our friends are scared, angry and upset. We know that the State in which we live, even temporarily, is most likely going to make abortion illegal. 

it is terrifying that there is a precedent being set, which entitles the government to regulate our bodies. We know it will not eliminate abortions. Women are likely going to find other unsafe ways of preventing pregnancy. 

Giving birth is not a viable choice for some women and they will find other ways to stop it, even if it risks their lives.   It is devastating that our own government is not listening to the majority of its citizens.  It seems at the end of the day; this minority group of legislators care more about an unborn fetus than the women it will adversely affect. 

Pro- choice is about processing the basic human right to make our own decisions regarding our body. A child doesn't choose to come into this world but is given life by an individual; therefore, the child deserves the best life possible. If that individual cannot guarantee the child, the best life possible then the child should not suffer. No one wants to get an abortion as it is extremely traumatic but the cases in which abortion is necessary, should not be undermined 

It would be interesting to hear what some of the Millennial Men think.  Unfortunately, those in my focus group were either traveling or taking finals. 

The House of Representatives has already passed a bill which would legalize abortion federally.  The Senate probably doesn’t have sixty votes, but Chuck Schumer is going to bring it to the floor anyway.  I am sure it will be an individual vote so that everyone will know how their respective Senators feel about women’s rights. 

Most egregious, in this “preliminary” document NO exception for incest, rape or the mother’s health is mentioned.  One politician said that bringing a child of rape to life is an “opportunity”. To paraphrase “After all, maybe this child will grow up to solve Cancer or other great things.” Children who are raped and become pregnant should carry to full term, even if they are eleven.  Show me the page in either the Old or New Testament Bibles that says that. 

In the 60’s, the Conservative Republicans were not interested in population control.  One of the solutions suggested -I think in jest -was, “If you want population control, figure out a way for men to be pregnant and go through childbirth.  Chances are most families would have one child. 

Since the majority of anti-Roe v. Wade are men, who are peripherally involved in the process. Many suggestions of how to restrict their rights have been suggested.  Most of which I can’t discuss here, except for obvious economic support or prison time.  Separation of Church and State is a bedrock part of the Constitution and so religious beliefs, should not be considered in making legislative policy.  

If you are a legislator at any level…It depends on what is your priority -your religious beliefs or what is best for your constituents?  If it is a conflict your country comes first …so you should choose another occupation. 

Do we have options?  The most important one right now is to VOTE for men and women who respect individual rights and who put the welfare of their constituents as a priority… not their political party.  All this garbage about math books being inappropriate and eliminating books from school libraries is a throwback to “the good old days” of a patriarchal era, when the little woman stayed home and had dinner on the table at 5:30 and “didn’t bother her pretty little head about politics.” 

The mid-term elections outcome has already been pre-determined by the social media Gods, thought leaders, mainstream media outlets, etc. to be a landslide for autocracy.  Hopefully this will give them pause to not be so certain of the outcome.  If you hear often enough that something is going to fail, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.   Look at the many people who believe the 2020 election was stolen. Can you imagine where we’d be now if we had a different Presidential outcome?  Hungary is a lovely place to visit BUT you wouldn’t want to live there!  

If you want to live in a country, that used to be the envy of the world, you and everyone you know, needs to make it that way.  There is no such thing as a free lunch.  Demonstrate if you can, do your due diligence instead of voting for the person with the most advertising, let all the candidates running for local, State and Federal elected office (dog catcher to Senator) know in no uncertain terms what you expect for the common good.  Yes, fixing the giant pothole in front of your house is an acceptable ask. 

Throwing your hands up in disgust and thinking that you are just one person so you can’t make a difference, is BS.   Unfortunately, California and particularly Los Angeles, doesn’t have a great record for turnout in mid-term elections.  Make this June and November the exception.

(Denyse Selesnick is a CityWatch columnist and a former publisher/journalist/international event organizer. Denyse can be reached at: [email protected])