On Reproductive Rights: We Hope, We Act, We Fight

By State Representative Aimee Berger-Girvalo

Have you ever worked to prepare yourself for the inevitable, but when it ultimately came you felt completely blind-sided?

In a 6-3 decision today, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion after nearly 50 years. This devastating opinion also casts doubt on the future protections of same-sex marriage, other LGBTQ rights and contraception. And SCOTUS is not likely to waste any time in executing further attacks on our rights.

But we knew this day was coming, even before the SCOTUS leak. The writing was on the wall. This decision has been a continuous threat for five decades. That dire threat was transformed into terrifying inevitability during the 4-years of disastrous Republican-controlled government, 2017-2021. The Republican-led Congress enthusiastically enabled, cheered, and collaborated with Donald Trump to pack the courts, especially the Supreme Court, with virulent extremists who fabricate facts, history, and perverse rationales completely at odds with the plain words, meaning, spirit, and principles of our Constitution. So why do we feel the way we do, right now?

Because it’s in our nature to be hopeful; to wish for the best outcome. It’s a human response, to tuck our deepest fears deep down and carry on.

In 2016 we hoped the very clear messaging from Trump that he would replace justices with anti-choice conservatives would be enough to get Hillary elected. In 2018 we hoped that his racist, sexist, bigoted policies would be enough to get a Democratic majority in the Senate. And today, we hope that this decision will be enough to send everyone running to the polls this November and finally get us the majorities we need to defend the human rights we are witnessing being systematically stripped from us.

I will never tell anyone that hope is a useless feeling. We need it. It keeps us going when we are at our darkest points. But hope is not enough. We need action.

In the Connecticut General Assembly we took preemptive action and passed the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act during the 2022 legislative session, which legally protects medical providers and patients traveling to Connecticut seeking abortion care. This legislation also allows for advanced practitioners for whom abortion care is part of their scope of practice to perform abortions. Governor Lamont has signed this legislation into law, putting our state at the forefront of protecting reproductive rights. Connecticut also codified Roe V. Wade into its Constitution in 1990.

Fighting for the right to choose, protecting practitioners and keeping Connecticut a safe place for all is at the top of my list as a lawmaker. But I can’t do it alone. We have to come together and re-affirm that abortion is healthcare. We have to rise up as one voice and shout to those elected to represent us that they need to acknowledge that 64% of Americans oppose this decision. We need to remember that this decision will impact the poorest among us in the most devastating ways. We need to understand that this is not the end of the list of rights that will be ripped from us. And we must take definitive action.

Never has it been more clear that elections have consequences. So yes, today you should feel whatever it is you’re feeling – pain, fear, sadness, anger. Feel it all today. But we act tomorrow. We fight tomorrow. We fight like our lives depend on it. Because they do.

State Representative Aimee Berger-Girvalo represents Connecticut’s 111th district in the Connecticut House of Representatives. The 111th district is wholly contained within the town of Ridgefield. State Representative Berger-Girvalo is heralded statewide as an active and effective leader on reproductive rights, gun safety, childhood health, eduction, and human rights. This column is provided by the Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee.