Senior Staff Writer
Women’s bodies have long been political objects. The Supreme Court brought them to the center of a rapidly-dividing United States.
June 24 will remain in infamy as the day the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, overruled Roe v. Wade. Many states were quick to roll out totalitarian-like policies that made abortion illegal at the earliest stages of pregnancy.
Violent cheers and protests from both sides of the abortion care debate were heard across the country — especially by young people. UC Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) Multicultural Center and a host of other university and student organizations held a “collective processing space” for those upset, confused, and bereaved with the Supreme Court decision.
The nation was a hell-storm, needless to say.
Online communities for women seeking abortions or sterilizations skyrocketed in membership. Retailers grappled with surging demand for emergency contraceptives such as Plan B. Those on social media saw a flurry of posts, many cheering, many despairing, and many concerningly spreading misinformation about accessing abortion and other reproductive healthcare.
The desperation of women across the country was palpable and glaringly apparent. Amidst the chaos, Mayday Health found a way to help.
Mayday Health is an educational non-profit dedicated to providing information on how to access abortion pills and other reproductive health resources in a single online space. Vetted by both medical and legal experts, the website also walks visitors through the process of obtaining abortion pills through the mail as an FDA-approved activity. The company helps bridge the reproductive health education gap, especially for BIPOC and other underserved communities that are disproportionately affected by Roe v. Wade’s reversal.
UCSB students have the privilege of access to contraceptive services, such as free consultations and prescriptions for multiple forms of birth control, through on-campus providers. Students in red states aren’t as lucky, with campus staff halting referrals for birth control and abortion services out of fear of losing work, or worse, prosecution.
Mayday Health’s recent stint at the University of Idaho raised questions about the right to free speech when it came to abortion. In states where women become criminals for refusing to give birth, whispers of the topic become threats to people’s livelihood, especially in public schools reliant on state funding.
On our liberal campus, no one would raise an eyebrow at a Mayday Health billboard. But what about red states?
Governor Newsom, in his campaign for reelection, rented billboards in Indiana, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas in mid-September. They proudly touted abortion access for all, directly challenging bans in each respective state. Reactions were surprisingly temperate, mostly mocking Governor Newsom’s overstepping of boundaries. But the move isn’t without consequence — like Mayday Health in Idaho, it raised serious debates on the protections of free speech in terms of abortion.
What should be purely a women’s rights issue has now been one of federal debate, one that has reached the highest courts in our country, and one that has ignited a storm both online and in real communities. Does abortion access need to be advertised the same way divorce lawyers, addiction recovery, and hair loss surgeries are?
In America, the answer is yes.
The fight to regain what was lost on June 24 comes down to our generation. Universities have long been centers of political demonstrations, and who better to lead the fight than young adults with “no real responsibilities?” These are some of the critiques older generations have for Gen Z, whose irresponsibility and self-righteousness have led to steps backward in time, not forward.
In the wake of Trump and his Christian nationalist legacy, conservative views continue to pollute every aspect of American life — including women’s. Banning books, censoring teachers, and blocking student debt relief are just a few examples.
I can’t help but be reminded of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale when I think about what the Supreme Court has stripped of women, a historic right that would’ve reached its 50th anniversary if not for what happened on June 24. In Atwood’s own opinion about the decision, she warns of the dangers of bleeding religion into governance.
“Not everyone shares such a belief. But all, it appears, now risk being subjected to laws formulated by those who do. That which is a sin within a certain set of religious beliefs is to be made a crime for all,” she wrote for the Atlantic.
Should a country be led by religious beliefs while profiting off underserved and undereducated communities and parading a facade of moral superiority? If the utopia Christian conservatives are seeking is one like Atwood’s novel, where women exist in servitude to men and the state, we’re nearly there.
To me, a world where women desperately seek travel and hotel fees on online forums in order to access a procedure others have always been guaranteed is more dystopian than reality. Unfortunately, women must face the ugly truth in this country. Until we direct our rage at those grossly misusing their power, it will only get worse.
And so an uphill battle begins, on land that should have been leveled long ago.