Woman holding sign reading "Remember when you said I was overreacting?" with text underlined in red. She is standing on the sidewalk in front of others at the pro-choice rally in Chicago on May 7.
Jessica McCartney, 50, at the abortion rights rally at the Federal Plaza on May 7. “I have a daughter who was conceived through IVF and I’m afraid that things like that may be next after taking away the right to abortion. I also have a daughter who may need health care one day.” Credit: Kathleen Hinkel

Regarding the recently revealed U.S. Supreme Court draft ruling on Roe v. Wade: WTF?

Because, it’s the F we’re talking about, right?

That little itch we’re biologically programmed to scratch and its inordinate, inequitable aftermath?

As I’ve opined here before, if cisgender men were the ones carrying a pregnancy for nine months, suffering through an excruciating (and dangerous) delivery, and then being saddled with the responsibility for another person for much of the rest of their lives, we would not be in this pickle.  

In that world, it would be clear to everyone that nature’s arrangement—whereby the dads would be newly expecting every year or two for decades—is no longer optimal. And that when contraception (it would be free and available everywhere) would occasionally fail, direct intervention, if desired, is warranted.  

Nothing about this would be illegal, socially frowned upon, or hard to access. Dudes would be picking up their uterine reset pills as casually as a Starbucks or a six-pack. And if a surgical adjustment should be necessary, it would be no more expensive or disconcerting than a dental procedure.

But that’s not our world. It’s not the patriarchy that’s getting, as the guys used to say, knocked up. Instead, in the wake of Donald Trump’s appointment of three justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, we’re facing the loss of the wedge of reproductive freedom Americans have had for the last 50 years.              

Illinois Elections 101 and Fighting Back Against SCOTUS virtual townhall, Mon 5/16, 6 PM. Sponsored by Personal PAC and Jane’s Army. Registration at janesarmy2022.com.

So, shame on us. A year ago, Terry Cosgrove, who’s headed the pro-choice political action committee Personal PAC for more than 30 years, told me that he expected the Trump Supreme Court to “eviscerate Roe v. Wade.” Now that it’s coming to pass, the biggest surprise for him is that people are reacting with shock. “It’s very simple,” an admittedly frustrated Cosgrove tells me: “This is the result of losing elections. The seeds of it were sown a long time ago. Donald Trump told us exactly what he was going to do if he was elected president, not enough people took him seriously, and we lost the 2016 election.”

“Trump said, ‘I’m going to appoint judges that are going to overturn Roe v. Wade.’ What didn’t people get about that? So here we are. I don’t know why people don’t understand how important it is that we do everything we can to elect pro-choice candidates.”

Well, um, what about that thing people are suggesting now, codifying the right to choice through legislation at the federal level?

“In the Congress? It’s not going to happen this year,” Cosgrove says. “We don’t have the votes in the Senate. I don’t know why people are wasting their time and energy even talking about that when we have two Illinois Supreme Court races [in districts two and three] in a few months that are going to decide the future of abortion rights in the state of Illinois. If we don’t win them, the right-wingers have lawsuits in the Illinois court system right now seeking to overturn HB 40 [signed by Governor Bruce Rauner in 2017] and the Reproductive Health Act [signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker in 2019]. If HB 40 is struck down, our trigger law, which says the day Roe v. Wade is overturned abortion and birth control and IVF are all illegal in Illinois, is back in effect. That’s what’s riding on the ballot.”

If people are serious about undoing this damage, they need to volunteer as much time as they can for the campaign of a pro-choice candidate, Cosgrove says. “They need to donate to pro-choice organizations, talk to everyone they know about registering to vote, and make sure they get out and vote for those pro-choice candidates.”  

“If everyone turns all their attention to Washington, D.C., and stops paying attention to Illinois, they’re going to lose everything here. There won’t be a single state left in the middle of the country where abortion will be safe and legal and acceptable.”

His words were on my mind as I drove through Indiana to a college graduation in Ohio last weekend, on highways dotted with anti-abortion billboards.