Shortly after the Supreme Court struck down women’s health privacy rights, state politicians began advocating for and against abortion rights, access to birth control and sex education for citizens residing under their control.
With the right to abortion included in some ballots, citizens could decide whether or not they wanted to codify access and rights to reproductive health care in their state constitution – those in California won the protection women’s rights.
With the inclusion of Prop 1 language in the state constitution, we are now able to freely and privately decide whether or not to have an abortion, access birth control, and use birth control as we feel. Looking at the language used in this life-changing proposal, it seems almost hysterical that it’s on the ballot that reproductive health rights are up for grabs, but sadly that’s the reality for the whole country.
After the cancellation of Roe v. Wade, fear hit me and the tears started to flow. It was as if our whole country had gone back in time; women had lost the right to access reproductive health care in many states across the country.
I knew living in California meant that for the most part my family and friends were safe, but what about when I moved east after college? The question of my safety, and the many people who lived in red states, was at the forefront of my mind.
Only five states had proposals regarding abortions and reproductive health rights this election; the fighting in these states was heard loudly across the country. If we could guarantee the right of women to control their own bodies in these states, it meant that those from other states could find safety here in times of need.
Every generation of women swarmed polling places earlier this week, as well as mail-in ballots, to voice their desire for abortion access, reproductive health rights, and the rights of California’s future women.
It was no light election for us Californians; we needed this victory for our safety, our sanity and future generations. There were many emotions as I filled in the circle sitting under Proposition 1: fear of losing our rights, hope for a revised constitution that protects even more citizens, and desire for a safer future.
Seeing the number seated next to “Yes to Proposition 1” on election night steadily increase brought tears of joy not only to my face, but not to the faces of the women around me – they were seated in fear.
As a woman, hearing that Roe v. Wade being knocked down felt like a permanent life sentence of always having to watch my back. Plans were created with the families and loved ones of those who could afford to seek asylum in states with reproductive health care should something happen.
According to the Centers for Disease and Control, one in three women is sexually assaulted at some point in her life, which means we already live with this constant fear of being assaulted. Yet, we are now faced with the fact that we may have no chance of reclaiming our bodies as our own.
With this victory for California voters, families are now able to refocus on life and the future rather than having to create a plan-b. However, as we celebrate, our hearts still cry for our sisters living in the 29 states where abortion is now illegal, unprotected, or has trigger laws in effect; because despite our victory and the victories of 20 other states, many others lost that fight in the midterm elections this week.
That’s why our win in California doesn’t really look like a real win. Of course, we are more secure in our rights and our bodies, but there are many across the country who are forced into a life they don’t or ever want.
There is an immense sense of relief and pride in saying that we live in California, especially after this week. Fear is no longer the cause of our tears, rather they flow because of the security and knowledge that future generations of Californians now have this right explicitly enshrined in the constitution.
Since Election Day, people have been celebrating on social media, words of excitement can be heard on college campuses and thanks to young voters for showing up to vote. But there is also the fear of the loss of the right to abortion of other States. Even with this victory, anger fills the hearts of many Californians as they reflect on how many Americans are stranded without access to birth control or abortion, even though they are in medical danger without it.
So in our moment of celebration and victory, don’t let your mind wander too far from the fact that we could have won, but there are many who still live in constant fear of losing their rights to their own bodies. The fight to protect our bodily autonomy in this country is not quite over.