For many, this particular Fourth of July was a hard one to celebrate. The recent revocation of our rights to make decisions about our own bodies was shocking. Not me. Yes, I wept for my mother and grandmothers who fought so hard for the right to individually own a house, have their own credit account, and earn equal pay. I wept for our country that just took a nosedive back to the 1950s where people with uteruses are supposed to be “barefoot and pregnant” … and controlled. But I literally bawled with my children who want to have kids of their own but are now afraid of having their own lives sacrificed (or being put in prison) if something goes wrong during their pregnancy.
As one of the three co-equal branches of our government, the judicial branch was set up to strive to uphold the Constitution and rule of law and protect us from the politics of the other two branches. But we’ve seen the opposite from the current majority of justices. Instead of protecting our rights, they are now taking them away.
With voting rights, the Supreme Court has been chipping away for almost a decade at the rights originally held in reverence in our democratic republic. This fall, they may take even more of those rights away in a case they’re reviewing now. But this should be no surprise either. It’s clear the majority wants to go back to a Constitution and Bill of Rights (written by all white wealthy men) where Black persons were legally allowed to be enslaved and only counted as three-fifths of a person and where women had many fewer rights than men.
But now with the 2022 Supreme Court and some state legislatures, Americans with uteruses have fewer rights than a firearm.
They say all politics is local. But what if it’s hyper-local? Not just our state, county, or town, but our own body. Taking away our right to the very life of our own body, endangering our mental health, and blocking our ability to economically prosper and pursue happiness is not what our nation stands for, is it? The judicial branch is no place for politics. It was intended to be the bastion of the rule of law.
What does all this have to do with our local community? Everything. In Colorado, we are lucky to still have protected voting rights as we’re noted for having the best election laws in the nation (which I’m proud to have voted on). We’re also fortunate to have full rights to make medical decisions about our own bodies thanks to state Rep. Meg Froelich’s leadership. And because Colorado has done well with gun responsibility laws, we have done our best to maintain our right just to live.
So, thank you, fellow Coloradans, for creating a common sense, live-and-let-live state. We have shown other states that a “free society” can work and prosper. But are we really free if a pregnant person can’t take a road trip across state lines without the fear of potentially losing their life? Is this a wake-up call to protect or rebuild our fragile democracy?
We knew this political game was coming. The justices swore under oath that Roe v. Wade was “settled law” and not in jeopardy. Some even personally promised to certain U.S. senators. But if you knew you could have a lifetime position of power, would you tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Well, some of us still would.
In sadness …
Former Colorado State Senator, Linda Newell is a writer, instructor, facilitator, and conflict & DEI coach. Senlindanewell@gmail.com, www.lindanewell.org, www.senlindanewell.com, @sennewell on Twitter, Senator Linda Newell on Facebook