GEO stands in solidarity with all people who are under attack by the imminent overturning of Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey, effectively nullifying abortion rights by the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court aspires to allow legal restriction and penalization of abortions. According to the leaked initial draft written by Justice Samuel Alito, the 1973 decision that guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights “was egregiously wrong from the start.” Alito writes in the document that it is the court’s opinion that “Roe and Casey must be overruled,” and argues for individual states to rule on the accessibility and possible criminalization of abortion. As a union committed to fight for our members’ rights and autonomy over their bodies, we strongly condemn this regressive draft decision. We also condemn any and all attempts to use existing carceral systems to punish and detain both people who seek abortions and healthcare providers who perform them. At the same time, we would like to remind our membership that, until a final decision comes, abortion is still legal in the State of Michigan. As a part of the current healthcare guaranteed in our contract, we have access to Planned Parenthood, and the services it provides to us either in full or with some co-pay.
However, if Roe was overturned, and despite Whitmer´s willingness to defend abortion rights, Michigan could enforce a 1931 ban that has not been repealed since Roe v. Wade decision, given the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature – and it’s worth recalling that the Republican Party’s chairman and member of the UM Board of Regents, Ron Weiser, is a known offender for making misogynistic remarks. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, Michigan law “limits public funding for abortion care and restricts private insurance coverage.” Moreover, “Michigan law restricts the provision of abortion care to physicians. Providers who violate Michigan’s abortion restrictiosns may face civil and criminal penalties.”
The expansion of reproductive rights has increasingly become an urgent issue across the Americas, where feminist movements have put in public the debate on abortion rights as a public health issue –besides an affirmation of the autonomy of our bodies– that requires access to safe, and free, medical abortion procedures and care. It is time that we learn from our comrades across Latin America, most notably feminist struggles in Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina, and their courageous efforts to decriminalize abortion and create safe, free, on-demand abortion access for all. This fight is not isolated to the United States, and we urge members to look to global intersectional struggles for inspiration, strategy, and clarity of thought. Specially, in their massive street protests and for taking the battle for abortion a a starting point for a broader struggle against the precarization of existence. As Ni Una Menos collective wrote amidst the abortion rights debate: “If the law is not passed, we will not leave the streets, and they will not be able to leave the Congress building, because in the street Legal Abortion is already the law. We will not let ourselves be burned because this time the fire is ours.”
We also wish to place this Supreme Court decision within a larger context of ongoing legal battles across the US over the last two years. The overturning of Roe v Wade is another notch in the belt of state and legal systems that are responding to far-right and fascist moral panics about critical race theory and defunding the police, and sex panics against queer and trans youth and adults. This decision must be understood as a blow against everyone’s bodily autonomy, concurrent with denying and criminalizing access to birth control, hormonal replacement therapy, and consensual sex acts. Justice Alito’s reasoning in the leaked document explicitly questioned the legitimacy of other Supreme Court cases that have provided some modicum of protection against state repression of consensual sex acts between adults, same-sex marriage, and interracial marriage. We make these connections to feminist movements for abortion access across the world, and to other political battles in the US, with the goal of underscoring the broader social and political terrain that we as a labor union struggle upon.
Contemplating the possibility of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe means that we acknowledge that there are people today who cannot access abortion care due to a variety of factors that include discrimination based on class, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability. Of course, it’s working class and poor Black and Indigenous women and people with uteruses whose access will be most curtailed. We would like to remind that prohibition and penalization has never stopped abortions from happening anywhere. The overturning of Roe v Wade does not spell the end of abortion in the US, nor does it protect life: on the contrary, it opens the floodgates for state legislation that will prohibit legal and safe abortions and will endager the lives of those who need them. If this Supreme Court decision goes through, abortions will continue, but they will not be safe or healthy.
If you want to help support a Michigan amendment to protect reproductive freedom, you can contact Reproductive Freedom for All (@mireprofreedom) to sign a petition, volunteer to collect signatures, and donate.
To support existing efforts to provide safe and free abortion access, please visit ineedana.org, and consider supporting the Midwest Access Coalition.
If you want to get involved with GEO to work on reproductive rights, contact email@example.com. GEO invites all members, graduate students, and community members to join a protest happening to protect our abortion rights:
Event: Hands off our bodies rally. Saturday, May 14 @ 2 p.m.
Venue: University of Michigan Diag RSVP: bit.ly/may14mi