Last month I sat vigil in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room and watched as Brett Kavanaugh attacked the Committee, launched personal attacks and accusations against several women on the Committee, and called the powerful testimony of a woman who accused him of sexual assault the work of a political operative being set up by the Democratic party to take him down. Not yet a year had passed since #MeToo surged on social media, and I was there to bear witness to this chaos — but more importantly, I was there to represent the millions of survivors in our country who stood up and said #MeToo, and the millions more who understandably have not taken that step. Yet.
What did they “win?” By confirming Kavanaugh, they potentially won the vote needed to roll back a right earned with the lifeblood of women who came before Roe v. Wade. The future of that right, the right of women to control their own bodies, was dealt a devastating blow by a Senate that is only 23% women, led by a Republican Judiciary Committee that is white and entirely male. And it cannot stand.
In just a few weeks, American voters in several states will weigh in on three separate ballot measures designed to take away women’s rights to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions. In West Virginia and Oregon, voters will consider measures that could immediately ban Medicaid insurance coverage for abortion, making this necessary and critical medical care virtually inaccessible for low-income women.
As if that’s not bad enough, the measures in West Virginia and Alabama could result in abortion being completely outlawed should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade and allow its legality to be decided on a state-by-state basis. All three measures are part of a broader strategy by the anti-abortion movement and the politicians it subverts to test just how much they can take away from those who already have far too little.
It doesn’t end with Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, though. Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are waging war against women in the lower courts, ramming through extremist judge after extremist judge in a cowardly assault against a women’s reproductive freedom. As of early October, McConnell’s male-dominated GOP caucus had approved 84 judges nominated by U.S. President Trump, including two Supreme Court justices and nearly thirty appellate court judges.
We must turn out in such a flood of voters that Noah himself will get his hammer ready and start counting out cubits. When we turn out, we win.
Since 2011, politicians have passed more than 400 restrictions designed to shame, harass, and guilt women who seek to end their pregnancies and put abortion care out of reach. The consequences fall hardest on women of colour, poor communities, rural women, and young people. If anti-abortion politicians have their way, they will force even more women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term because they can’t afford an abortion or because the clinics in their state have been shut down. The ability to decide when and whether to become a parent should never be tied to how much money a woman makes, how she gets her health insurance or where she lives.
And now, the Trump-McConnell courts will be deciding the validity of these laws.
This is evil. It’s sexist, it’s racist, and it’s going to result in women turning to illegal options. It’s part of the institutionalization of sexual violence against women in our courts and in the laws enacted by elected representatives.
So what do we do? How do we keep more evil, more harm, from being committed in our names?
In less than three weeks, perhaps the most consequential American election since the Second World War will take place. Knowing the power of women and minorities, entrenched political interests have thrown up barricades between Americans and the polls. We must overwhelm those barricades. We must turn out in such a flood of voters that Noah himself will get his hammer ready and start counting out cubits. When we turn out, we win. It’s that simple.
The only thing to do in the few days left to us is to change the world. To bring everyone you know to the polls. To figure out what constitutes the absolute most you can do to get people out to vote, and to do every last bit of it. And to keep doing it, election after election, until the rotten foundations of their house crumble and we rebuild a congress, judiciary, and executive branch that respect our rights, our bodies, and our consent.
I carried every #MeToo story with me as I sat that vigil in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. As Dr. Ford bravely told her powerful and heartrending story, I added it to the chorus of women shouting “No more” who sat with me in spirit in that small room. I carried every woman who died or was disabled from an illegal abortion. I carried with me the women who will suffer if we don’t reverse the damage our government is doing right now. And I’m going to carry every one of those stories with me into the voting booth, and I am going to vote solely for candidates and ballot measures that uphold the healthcare, humanity and rights of all women.
If each of us does the same, we’ll never see this happen again.