A booklet printed on newsprint in 1970 sold 225,000 copies and evolved into the first commercial edition of “Our Bodies Ourselves: A Book by and for Women” by the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective two years later.
A booklet printed on newsprint in 1970 sold 225,000 copies and evolved into the first commercial edition of “Our Bodies Ourselves: A Book by and for Women” by the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective two years later.

I believed we had really turned a corner

Until the Dobbs decision, women felt a sense of security about our health care. Women have come a long way, and the male Supreme Court justices don’t like it at all.

Nancy Braus, until recently an independent bookseller, is a longtime activist who contributes often to these pages.

GUILFORD-It is becoming very, very clear that the Supreme Court has no hidden agenda. The Federalist Society, Leonard Leo, and the rest of the criminal enterprise that has bought and paid for the majority of the "justices" on the Supreme Court aren't even being coy any more.

They are coming after women.

Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, has essentially told women that we are (I guess) second-class citizens. Men get to legally access emergency health care at all times when they show up at a hospital.

Clearly, every hospital needs to roll out the red carpet to save the life of a fetus - even if the fetus has no brain, or another condition that is incompatible with life.

It is clear that the goal of all five male justices on the court is to destroy any power that women might still retain over our own bodies. This aim is to make women completely dependent - the old "barefoot and pregnant" trope.

* * *

One hundred years ago, women did not have the right to access birth control. Abortions were back-alley death sentences due to the huge risk of infections or of bleeding out. In vitro fertilization did not yet exist. Ectopic pregnancies were deadly.

And women's cancers and other reproductive conditions were not even discussed in polite company - or, in some cases, outside of the doctors' offices.

One of the largest leaps in women's reproductive health care had nothing to do with doctors, but with women.

In 1970, a visionary group, the Boston Women's Health Book Collective, published what would several years later become the book Our Bodies, Ourselves. I was blown away by the information it contained. Nobody had ever - ever - offered the tools that this book gave to women.

Out of the woodwork came all the suppressed stories of sexual abuse, of women honestly talking about orgasms, puberty, menopause, infertility, domestic violence, menstrual pain, and the list goes on.

Women who considered themselves feminists at the time were empowered, with this book as a guide, to learn about their internal organs, their sexuality, their health care, and so much more.

I believed we had really turned a corner, that women would never go back to being told that they would not able to be agents of their own reproductive decisions.

* * *

Since 1970, women have come a long way. In 1970, 7% of OB-GYNs were women. Now the percentage is well over 50% and increasing all the time.

Planned Parenthood offers a full array of reproductive care - so much that the Trumpers would love to shut it all down and leave poor women with no care at all.

Women fully expect to be able to plan their family size, the age when they have their children, whether they continue to use birth control, and, if so, what method they choose.

In the aftermath of Our Bodies, Ourselves, a climate of openness and honesty about women's health needs flourished. Support groups sprouted up for women in domestic violence situations, for lesbians, for women who have special reproductive difficulties.

Until the Dobbs decision, women did feel a certain sense of security about their health care.

Women have come a long way, and the male justices - Sam, Clarence, Neil, Brett, and John - don't like it at all.

* * *

This feeling that women had control of their reproductive powers is slipping away real fast - especially in the states dominated by the Trumpist cult.

Every day, we read about women who have a complicated pregnancy, women who have struggled with becoming pregnant only to begin to bleed a lot, or women who have a non-viable fetus being turned away from hospitals at critical moments.

We read of those who are told to go out of state for health care when they are bleeding, in pain, and terrified.

In Texas, the city of Amarillo is actually trying to update the Fugitive Slave Act - trying to prohibit pregnant women from going out of state for care. They will be able to prosecute anyone assisting in person or funding a pregnant women leaving the state for reproductive care.

I assume that in Texas, where the only exception for legal access to an abortion for you as a mother is a threat of your immediate death. I assume that even if you are hemorrhaging and screaming in agony, your companion will be arrested, and you will be left on the side of the road to bleed to death.

Thanks, Texas.

* * *

The states that are trying to pretend that feminism never existed, to imagine that women will sit back and become who they were in 1950, are moving fast.

To end medication abortions, they are trying to resume enforcing the completely dated 1873 Comstock Act, a law that makes it illegal to ship any medications for abortion or contraception through the mail. This act has been dormant since Roe v. Wade, but the men who want women to be completely under their thumb want to bring it back.

Women have been courageously fighting for health rights for many years. The idea that these men think they will be able to end our right as women to make any decisions about our bodies will hopefully bring millions of women - and all supporters of the rights of women - to the polls.

Those of us who live in states where the majority of the legislators are actually thinking human beings have seen none of this nonsense.

But if Trump comes back into power, we'd all better watch out.

This Voices Viewpoint was submitted to The Commons.

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