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My Thoughts on Being a Woman in a post-Roe America

Hey ABOG Framily (that's friends and family 😊),


Like many of you, I've been spending A LOT of time over the past several days sorting whether and how to talk about how I feel about Dobbs v. Jackson Womens Health, the recent Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.


As a small business owner, my business IS me, and I AM my business. I am literally a one-woman show over here. This means that I am acutely aware of when I lose a customer or follower, which sometimes makes me hesitant to share my opinions or experiences as they relate to "sensitive" or "political" issues. That said, this particular issue is one that is too big and far too important for me to NOT speak out. So, if what follows offends or upsets you, I welcome you to unfollow me and stop supporting my business. You do not need to announce your departure, and please know that I will not engage with anyone who sends me rude, threatening, or disrespectful messages. I am happy to participate in respectful dialogue, but I will not be threatened or insulted. Period. This website is MY space, not yours. If you can agree to those terms, I welcome you to read on...



For those who are unfamiliar with my story, I was a practicing litigation attorney on the "partnership track" at a large Los Angeles law firm but decided to try something different before it was too late. I left the law life behind for culinary school and then became the Executive Chef and ran the restaurants for a Southern California ferry company before the Covid-related shut downs in March 2020 shuttered my restaurants. Wanting a job that was still food-related but would allow me to work from home, I formed A Bite of Good and started creating my small batch, handcrafted spice blends and gourmet foods. What started as a small Cottage Food Operation has expanded to the point where I now manufacture my products out of a commercial kitchen facility, and I am fully licensed to sell both direct to consumers as well as wholesale nationwide. It has been a wild ride, but I love making delicious products that help people make their own cooking more exciting and tasty.


I provide this background here to give you an idea of who I am - a highly educated, fiercely independent, capable woman who is unabashedly unafraid to step into traditionally male-dominated spheres and, let's be honest, kick some ass.


Now, onto the topic at hand. I have never had an abortion. I spent most of my adult life taking birth control in order to avoid getting pregnant, only to learn about 4 years ago (at age 36) that I am apparently infertile. My husband and I have spent nearly 4 years and thousands of dollars on all manner of fertility treatments, including, but not limited to, acupuncture, various medical interventions, IUIs, and, most recently, IVF. After a failed embryo transfer and two miscarriages, we are preparing to move on to other options to build our family, namely adoption. It has been a stressful, painful, awful journey so far, and absolutely NO ONE needs to tell me how precious life is, especially not someone who either doesn't have a uterus or who hasn't been through what I have been through.


All that being said, had I gotten pregnant when I was younger, especially before meeting my husband, there is no question in my mind that I would have terminated that pregnancy. It would not have been a difficult decision for me, and I would have felt no reason to explain my choice to anyone, as this is - and has always been - my body, a body over which I should not lose all autonomy simply because a few cells have clustered together and MIGHT eventually grow into a viable human.


I absolutely understand that the decision to have an abortion is, for many women, a difficult one, but it concerns me that so much of the discourse around the topic assumes that the only reasons a woman should ever consider an abortion is if she is a victim or rape or incest, if her life is in danger, or if her fetus is not viable. Plenty of women don't want children at all. Or are not ready to have children yet. Or just don't want children with the father of this one. Or can't afford children. Or already have children and feel that being a good mother to them is more important than making them a sibling. I could go on and on and on, but you get the point. It doesn't matter her reason. It's no one else's business. Period.


The usual response to this is that the Bible says "life begins at conception" and "we have to protect the unborn." I am not going to argue about the tenets of various religions here because this is the United States of America, and we are not a Christian nation guided by the Christian Bible. If we were, we would do a better job taking care of refugees, the poor, and the sick. But we don't. Because it isn't really about "life." If it were about "life" then, among other things, child support would be required from the moment of conception, healthcare would be universal and free, paid parental leave would be widely available, childcare wouldn't cost a fortune, and public schools would be fully funded and supported. None of that is true, so spare me the "pro-life" argument here.


Now, I am not a constitutional scholar, but I did attend a prestigious law school and practiced law at an excellent law firm for several years, so I am better equipped to understand the Dobbs decision than a lot of people wagging their tongues in the media right now, and what it comes down to is this: The current majority of Justices on the US Supreme Court believe that the US Constitution should be interpreted according to a concept called "original intent." In other words, they look to the specific language in the document to answer the question, and if it is not mentioned in the Constitution (as is the case with abortion), they try to figure out what the drafters of the Constitution would think of the question based on history, contemporaneous events, etc.


Just a quick reminder... The people who drafted the US Constitution and its Amendments in the 18th and 19th centuries were all middle-aged white men of means. A number of them owned slaves. The original Constitution counted black men as 3/5 of a person and didn't even mention women because women were considered chattel and didn't exist outside of their relationship to a man. Not exactly who I want to be making decisions about my body. You? I won't go into the history of abortion in the United States here, but if you're interested in learning more, I highly recommend the Physicians' Crusade and A New Battlefield episodes of NPR's Throughline Podcast. (Find the episodes here and here.)


The alternative to "original intent" is to treat the Constitution as a living document that adapts and grows along with our Nation, always with an eye toward justice and the expansion (not restriction) of individual rights and liberties. I don't know about you, but this sounds good to me. America the Free, right??


Conservative organizations in this country like The Federalist Society have, for decades, waged a steady campaign to pack the US Federal Courts with judges that subscribe to the "original intent" idea, and they have been incredibly successful, as is evidenced by the current Supreme Court.


So if the federal courts are packed with judges who follow the "original intent" concept, what does that mean? It means that any rights that are not specifically identified in the Constitution (or protected by separate legislation) are UP FOR GRABS, as Justice Thomas made clear in his concurring opinion in Dobbs, when he stated that the reasoning the Court used to overturn Roe v. Wade can and should be applied to overturn the cases protecting individual rights to contraception, consensual sex between non-heterosexual couples, and gay marriage, just to name a few.


The Dobbs decision, then, eliminated any federal constitutional right to abortion, which means that individual states are now allowed to regulate (or ban) abortion however they want. Already, a mere four days later, abortion is either illegal or severely restricted in a dozen states, with over a dozen more set to do the same in the coming weeks. These restrictions and bans will not prevent wealthy people from accessing abortion care, of course. That burden will fall disproportionately on low-income Americans, and especially people of color. I would say this is un-American, but the sad truth is that it is in line with the racial injustice that has existed in this country since its founding. So really it is just WRONG.


While I am furious about this decision, the truth is that we knew it was coming. Conservatives have made no secret of their plan. So yes, I'm angry at the Supreme Court, but I am angrier still at Congress, who in the 49 years since Roe v. Wade was decided, have failed to enact legislation protecting a woman's bodily autonomy despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans support at least some access to abortion. And I will be even angrier if they fail to pass legislation to protect access to contraception or gay marriage (or any other of our rights not specifically identified in the Constitution) before those cases make it before this radical Supreme Court.


Ok, so I'm angry. What am I going to do about it?


1) I'm going to get involved. Yes, that means protesting, but it also means getting involved with and donating to organizations that support reproductive justice and women's rights like Planned Parenthood, Women's March, Together Rising, NARAL Pro Choice America, and Emily's List, among others.


2) I'm going to VOTE in ALL Federal elections. All federal judges (not just Supreme Court Justices) are nominated by the President and approved by the Senate for LIFETIME APPOINTMENTS. This is just one of many reasons why it is so important to VOTE all the way down the ballot and to pay attention to how your Senators are voting on judicial nominations. Once someone becomes a federal judge, they are pretty much there as long as they want to stay. Moreover, we must vote for Senators and Representatives who support not just abortion access but also gay rights and any other rights we are likely to lose once the right cases make it to the Supreme Court. Hold Congress accountable. They work for YOU.


3) I'm going to VOTE in ALL State elections. Now that the question of the right to abortion has been returned to the States, individual State legislatures have the power to ban or restrict abortion access however they want. Know your state legislators and their voting records. Hold them accountable. They also work for YOU.


I know this is all scary and overwhelming, but it is not over, and WE WILL NOT GO BACK. So take the time you need to protect your mental health, and then get ready to FIGHT for our RIGHTS. I'll be right there with you.


Sending love and light and the hope of fundamental rights to you all.


Cheers,


Laurel



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