The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take away federal protections for basic healthcare and the environment. This has been a dark week for democracy and human rights. In this darkness, we have the opportunity to bring light.
We have the opportunity to stand in defiance. Act now to strengthen our movements for justice.
(Note: Abortion is still legal in most states, and the abortion pill (most effective in the first 11 weeks of pregnancy) is often available by telehealth or by mail.)
The Supreme Court Strikes Down Roe v. Wade
Last Friday, the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, removing all federal protections for a fundamental component of basic healthcare. Abortion is a common and safe medical procedure (most often a pill) that allows people with a uterus to end a pregnancy when their life’s future or their personal health is at risk. 8 in 10 people in the U.S. believe in the legal right to abortion. However, the six conservative Supreme Court justices think that people should not be in charge of their own healthcare decisions—that state lawmakers somehow know better what people should do with their lives.
Immediately following the Supreme Court decision, state-level trigger laws have already impacted people’s access to abortion in over 13 states. Many patients who showed up to a scheduled appointment were denied care because providers were afraid of legal repercussions.
Chloe Partridge shared her story on Instagram—how she learned 2 weeks ago that her pregnancy is incompatible with life, that she can feel the seizures inside her uterus every day, that she knew she wanted to terminate the pregnancy, that she confirmed and scheduled an induction with her doctor. Then Roe v. Wade was struck down.
my doctor called me today and told me i have to remain pregnant until this baby dies inside of me or dies when she’s born. what kind of sick country do we live in where we force a mom to feel her baby suffer every single day until her baby dies?
We know that forcing people against their will to give birth will lead to increased maternal mortality rates, especially in communities of color. And the United States already has the worst maternal mortality rates of any wealthy nation.
A Radically Conservative Supreme Court
The removal of the protections under Roe v. Wade has significant repercussions beyond reproductive health, impacting all our movements to make a safer, more just world. It implies that six radically conservative people can decide to rewrite pre-existing, long-standing legal decisions made by their predecessors.
These six Catholics have decided to remove the bodily autonomy of a vast number of U.S. residents. Justice Clarence Thomas has suggested that the court should go beyond Roe and re-evaluate decisions going as far back as 47 years that protect people’s access to birth control, allow people to get married who were assigned the same sex at birth, and prevent the government from deciding what kind of consensual sex people are allowed to have.
And two days ago, the Supreme Court made a decision to weaken the federal government’s ability to regulate carbon emissions.
What environmental law did the Supreme Court strike down?
On Earth Day in 1970, the Clean Air Act modified existing pollution laws to allow the federal government to regulate emissions that were hazardous to human health. This act spawned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and had a domino effect leading to countless improvements in environmental and human wellbeing.
In 2009, the EPA determined, based on extensive scientific research, that 6 greenhouse gases “endanger public health and welfare.” Fossil fuel emissions are the number one cause behind the climate crisis we’re currently living through. By demonstrating that carbon emissions are a danger to public health, this 2009 decision expanded the scope of the Clean Air Act. For the first time, the U.S. government, through the offices of the EPA, was given the authority to regulate carbon emissions.
This paved the way for President Obama’s 2015 Clean Power Plan—the first time in U.S. history that power plants were told they had to limit how much carbon pollution they emitted. This plan was repealed in 2019 under the Trump administration.
Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision, in the case of West Virginia v. EPA, states that the EPA’s 2009 decision regulating carbon emissions overstepped their power. The decision suggests that the EPA needs to ask Congress for permission before it can regulate fossil fuel emissions. But, of course, the current Congress has been rendered almost entirely dysfunctional by conservative gerrymandering and legalized corruption.
Politics Stands in the Way of Reducing Carbon Emissions
With clean air no longer a guarantee in the United States, the Supreme Court is also scheduled in October to review a case that challenges the Clean Water Act (Sackett v. EPA).
Those who remember Pete Seeger know that he helped make this act a reality through grassroots education and activism. Notably, he and the crew of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater sailed down to Washington, D.C. to sing for Congress and deliver thousands of petitions in support of the Clean Water Act.
Two years later, in 1972, the Clean Water Act became law, and General Electric could no longer poison the river with PCBs (they had already dumped 1.3 million pounds of the stuff straight into the river from capacitor manufacturing). The Clean Water Act didn’t just protect the Hudson River though. This federal law has kept billions of pounds of pollution out of every river and waterway across the country. Based on their current pace, many anticipate that the Supreme Court will severely weaken the Clean Water Act.
The Biden administration is not out of options when it comes to moving forward meaningful climate policy, but so far they are not rising to the occasion. Earlier this week, the Department of Interior resumed leasing public lands for onshore oil & gas drilling (the Biden administration was promptly sued by several environmental groups).
And just yesterday, the President’s administration proposed allowing offshore fossil fuel drilling in the 2022 reconciliation package. Caving to the conservative Joe Manchin (who masquerades as a Democrat), this signals deference to Thursday’s SCOTUS decision as Biden attempts to get anything at all to move through Congress.
So what are we going to do about it?
I, for one, want to lift up the work of the organizations below. They are fighting for our rights to make our own decisions, to determine our own destiny, and to live in a habitable world.
I encourage you to get involved—donate, show up to protests, go to city council meetings, volunteer, vote climate deniers and forced-birthers out of office. And if you’re considering a career shift, switch out of your private sector job and into social impact work.
Now is the time. We cannot delay any longer. This is the work of our lifetime.
The people united will never be defeated.
Environmental Organizations to Donate To
– Partnering with indigenous communities to protect rainforests all over the world.
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
– Persistently advocating for the legal rights of the planet and its people.
– They’ve got a proven track record of success, including suing the Trump administration an average of once every 10 days, with a 90% success rate.
Kiss the Ground
– Advocating for regenerative farming practices that enrich topsoil so that we are more likely to have a sustainable food supply in 50 years.
– Working as the pro bono legal team for folks like The Sierra Club, Standing Rock Souix Tribe, and The American Lung Association.
– Mobilizing climate activists across the planet.
– They’ve been the organizers of some of the biggest climate marches in history, and they regularly reinforce the initiatives of other environmental organizations
Pro-Choice Organizations to Donate To
National Network of Abortion Funds
– Your donation is split evenly between abortion funds across the country (93 funds at the time of this writing).
– These funds are the primary network that supports people who need to travel out-of-state to get an abortion.
– At the moment, many of them are mailing emergency contraceptives (like Plan B) and strategizing about how to keep operating without legal ramifications.
Planned Parenthood (and local affiliates)
– Providing reproductive healthcare and sex education for all.
– Supporting millions of patients, including acting as the Primary Care Provider for many.
Center for Reproductive Rights
– Dedicated to advancing reproductive rights all over the world.
NARAL Pro-Choice America
– A network of 2.5 million activists who primarily work to educate and influence lawmakers to support the legal right to abortion.
– They also regularly endorse pro-choice candidates.
Bedsider, Power to Decide, and AbortionFinder.org
– Pleasure-positive sex education.
– Working across many dimensions to prevent unplanned pregnancies.
– The research wing of the reproductive justice movement.
– Providing comprehensive data about abortion, contraception, STIs and more.
Political Advocacy Organizations to Donate To
– Working to elect “community leaders across the country to state and local office who pledge to fight back against fossil fuel projects and for a just green economy.”
– At a time when national policies are simply not keeping pace with the climate crisis, the local level is where we can make the most impact to shift our governments and economies to be more sustainable.
– “Recruits, trains and supports Democratic pro-choice women candidates at every level of the ballot.”
– Organizing people all over the country to fight corruption in our governmental systems.
– Broad campaign to fund competitive races and get liberals elected to Congress.
Human Rights Organizations to Donate To
ACLU (and local affiliates)
National Center for Transgender Equality
International Rescue Committee
National Immigration Law Center
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