In the wake of Dobbs v. Whole Women’s Health, we, like many of you, are reeling from this rollback of civil rights by a rogue Supreme Court. As people come together in the streets to mourn, rage, and demand change, we support organizers and movements fighting for reproductive justice and basic health care. We see this as an issue of bodily autonomy and human rights under siege. This concerted effort to control bodily autonomy and family planning and a huge step backward from the crucial gains made towards equity in Roe v. Wade may be only the first in a line of other rights this court seeks to dismantle. As it stands, generations of organizers and activists have seen their work upended by six Justices, several of whom misled the public when asked if they would uphold the 1971 ruling.
It is abhorrent that in thirteen states throughout the country, this case has already triggered abortion bans. In Michigan, abortion is still legal due to an injunction in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood of Michigan and the American Civil Liberties Union that seeks to stop the enforcement of a 1931 abortion ban. That has not stopped a handful of prosecutors and Republican legislators from saying they would still enforce the 1931 law despite the injunction. The law, “which is one of the strictest in the country,” would restrict abortion access in all cases except to “preserve the life” of the parent. The potential enforcement of this law should concern all Michiganders, whether or not they live in jurisdictions that might enforce this law. We know that if the law is not struck down, it will have especially dire consequences for low-income families, Black and Brown communities, and for trans and gender-nonconforming people. For now, however, we must reiterate that abortion remains legal in Michigan and that 20+ clinics still operate in the state to provide this medical care.
At the Detroit Justice Center, we recognize reproductive rights (the ability to access abortion) as the floor, and we see all of our work as part of a broader fight for reproductive justice (the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities). Our work to support people to have safe housing, stay out of prison, access healthy food, earn livelihoods through worker-owned co-ops, reunite with their families after leaving prison, and more is all part of reproductive justice work, as it builds individual and community self-determination and creates conditions for people to choose to raise families (or not) with the support they need. Defunding the police is also integral to this work, as police will be the ones to enforce laws that criminalize people’s basic health care needs. We affirm every individual’s right to choose to parent, not parent, breastfeed, access abortion or birth control, and see their children, whether they are incarcerated, on parole, or otherwise. Any legislation that further entrenches criminalization, policing, courts, and incarceration stands in opposition to the kind of world we seek to leave for future generations. The ruling will also increase the rates of people who are forced to give birth in prison and then potentially have their children taken away by the state, a reality that already disproportionately affects poor Black and Brown people.
We support everyone fighting for reproductive justice and know the Supreme Court’s ruling will require an immense amount of time and energy spent on ensuring people’s right to basic health care that could be spent elsewhere. We are taking the lead from organizers on the ground, and a growing movement for reproductive justice, and encourage people to support organizations like Mothering Justice, and abortion funds like the Reclaim MI Win Fund, part of the National Network of Abortion Funds. We see it as our duty to stand beside our comrades in this work and fight alongside them to end what is likely just the beginning of a rollback of the human right to self-determination by this Supreme Court.