Feel your rage. Honor your sadness. Protect Women.June 29, 2022
It’s one of those weeks where I feel quiet. I’m listening. I’m watching the leaves in the breeze and wondering about their trembling. I’m feeling very grateful for the incredible people I know and don’t know, and very existentially worried about this nation and this planet, about the bodies and hearts, breaking everywhere.
-Courtney Martin, author/activist
For the first time in history, the Supreme Court has taken away a constitutional right. This has never happened before. I write to you now as a lawyer and mother. No matter your view on abortion, this is my love letter to you.
First, a deep breath
We got the news that the Supreme Court had overturned Roe on a family trip to the mountains. Even though it was expected, it still felt shocking. We wept, my mother and me. Then we went into the forest as planned and visited a grove of ancient sequoias that are 2,000 years old. We saw charcoal scars from recent wildfires – and new green shoots. The trees keep going. I thought about how their roots create a hidden network beneath the soil, the mycelium, where they send one another information and nutrients. If one is hurting, the others send it support. These trees know that resilience and longevity are only possible in community. This is how we are going to survive the multiple crises we are living through now. I send you this letter through the roots.
What’s happening now
As we speak, half the states in the U.S. are enacting laws that restrict or make abortion illegal in all or most cases. Forced pregnancy will become law in many states, even, in some cases, those caused by rape and incest. Those who resort to unsafe abortions because they cannot afford to travel to another state for care are at risk of death. Black, Indigenous, and brown women will be harmed most. My dear sister and friend survived two ectopic pregnancies that would have taken her life if it weren’t for abortion care. Now women who are denied the care she received – a standard remedy in her case as in many other similar cases – will die.
Miscarriages are already being investigated as murders in several states. Those who travel to other states for abortion care could face criminal prosecution and go to prison, along with the doctors who care for them. Many states are moving to restrict abortion pills in the mail, which means enforcement would only be possible with unprecedented levels of surveillance. This will impact people of color in communities already heavily policed.
What could happen next
Overturning Roe is the beginning. In their ruling, the majority argued that a constitutional right must be “deeply rooted in this nation’s history and tradition.” By the court’s reasoning, every constitutional right that has been secured since the mid-19th century is now in question. In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas directly called for the court to eliminate the rights affirmed in Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell — the right to use birth control, the right to marry a person of our choosing, and the right for consenting adults to do as they wish in the privacy of their bedroom without being arrested or charged with crimes. In other words, this case opens the door for assaults on bodily autonomy, privacy, and liberty in the most intimate arenas of our lives.
Why this ruling is regression
In law school, I studied Roe with my mentor Reva Siegel, one of the nation’s foremost constitutional law scholars. I learned about the generations of women before me who dedicated their lives for basic freedoms. Reva calls the Court’s claim to originalism a thin veil for advancing a political project that treats women as second-class citizens. For to strip away a woman’s freedom to care for her own body when it matters most -— to decide when, whether, and how to bring children into the world — is to deny her intelligence and humanity. It is a failure of recognition, a refusal of dignity, a regression of the highest order.
If you don’t support abortion
I respect your position. If you believe a person begins at conception, then you likely believe abortion is killing we should prevent. But this ruling will not minimize the number of abortions. It will simply increase the number of unsafe abortions and the number of women who will die from them. Imagine all the ways we can protect life without causing more death. We can support women and mothers and parents by funding contraception and sex education, prenatal care, baby formula, paid maternity leave, paid parental leave, universal health care, universal pre-K, and on. If you are pro-life, imagine what it would mean to be on the side of life for all.
Honor your rage
If you are angry, you are not alone. The majority of Americans believe that the choice to make a family belongs to women and pregnant people, not lawmakers. Where is rage in your body? Place your hand there. Stay with the sensation. Feel your rage. Honor your rage. Breathe into it. Where does it want to go? Choose how you want to move it — talk it, scream it, wail it, sing it. Your rage is loaded with information and energy (Audre Lorde). Together, we are going to alchemize this rage into a force the world has not seen.
The story of America is one long labor — not linear progress, but a series of expansions and contractions. I believe this massive contraction, this cruel regression, will ultimately be followed by an expansion of rights and dignity and justice — if we show up.
So what do we do?
There are thousands of ways to push that will shift culture, consciousness, policy, and power in the coming weeks and months and years— block by block, heart to heart. We don’t have to do all the things. Just our thing. Together, we are a body in motion.
We will march. We will organize. We will sing. We will dance. We will make art. We will create underground networks of care. We will raise money for abortion clinics. We will build sanctuary cities. We will fight for new legislation. We will work to expand the court. We will run for office. We will win. We will teach our children. We will listen to opponents with humanity. We will speak with authenticity. We will trust the power of our stories. We will follow the lead of Black and Indigenous women who have long known how to survive unspeakable harm on this soil. In doing so, we will uncover new forms of ancestral courage and resilience — and imagination.
We must do more than resist — we must reimagine a future where every person has the bodily autonomy to choose when, whether, and how to make family and flourish.
I invite you to protect space to imagine. To focus not just on what we are fighting against, but on the world we are fighting for. When we imagine and dream together, we can begin to feel the world we want in our bodies. It becomes like a memory that we carry. It can become our North Star. Imagination needs space. Let’s make space together. Remember the trees. Resilience and longevity are possible in community.
Below is a recipe for resilience and a hymn that has become a balm for my soul, plus ways to take action.
In Chardi Kala — even in darkness, ever-rising spirits,
DONATE to support providers, independent clinics, and folks seeking abortion.
STAY INFORMED. Learn your rights, locate the nearest abortion provider, and seek legal support to protect your abortion. Share these resources with folks who need it.
EDUCATE yourself on how to keep your information private.
A recipe for resilience
Here are revolutionary love practices for this moment.
Choose what you need. Share it.
GRIEVE: What is the shape of grief in your body? If you feel the primal scream in you, this is the time to make space for healing. Let yourself touch the sorrow, rest and breathe. Don’t isolate. Show up to a healing circle in your community. Organize one if needed. Go to vigils. Be with people who make you feel safe. Let in softness and love into the places that ache. Make space to just to stop — and feel this together.
RAGE: What is the force of rage in your body? Notice where you are constricted, tense, or numb. Now move that energy – curse, scream, shake, dance, run. Don’t choke down your rage. Or let it fester. Be with people who can honor this rage and process it in safe containers. Your rage carries information – what is it telling you? You have something to fight for. You have a role to play, and no role is too small.
FIGHT: What courageous step are you ready to take? Do not swallow the lie that nothing can be done. You have a sphere of influence. Every choice we make – every word, every action, every encounter – co-creates culture and shapes what happens next. Will you use your voice, your art, your story, your money, your power, your heart?
REIMAGINE: What is the world you want? What does beloved community look like, feel like? We can only live into what we imagine. Protect time and space to dream and dream big. Then take one step toward that dream.
LISTEN: What do you need to approach opponents with humanity? If you are safe enough, take one step toward a courageous conversation. Lead with your story, above all. Listen for theirs.
BREATHE: How will you breathe today? This is the work of a lifetime. Our lifetime. Take time to rest, step away from the news, nourish your body and your beloveds. Remember the wisdom of the midwife: Breathe, my love, then push. When joy comes, let it come. In joy, we presage the world to come.
Go deeper into any of these practices on
the Revolutionary Love Learning Hub.
A balm for the soul
When the news broke on Friday, my dear sister adrienne maree brown shared a video of her singing this sovereignty hymn by The Bengsons. My mother and I sang this song in the forest as a way to move through the pain of this moment. Listen to it. Teach it. Sing it with us. May it be a healing balm for you, too.
We will not
We will not
We will not be controlled.
I am sovereign in my body.
I am sovereign in my soul.
— The Bengsons
Donate to the Revolutionary Love Project
The Revolutionary Love Project envisions a world where love is a public ethic and shared practice in our lives and politics. We generate stories, tools, and thought leadership to equip people to practice the ethic of love in the fight for social justice.
Other places to donate:
‘All gifts made by June 30 will be matched, $1‑for‑$1, up to a total of $250,000.’
National Network of Abortion Funds
‘We are desperate for someone with a plan, someone with some spirit.’
Bill McKibben, author/educator/environmentalist/activist
Love this piece from Bill. Insightful, truly compassionate, and a needed idea. No one is communicating, or helping. Because, really, there is no plan, or someone with spirit. We need more than a poem from the Speaker of the House, or a yoga pose from Democratic Rep. Andy Levin to release his ‘toxicity.’ Since deleted. More than a month after Alito’s leak, the Dems did nothing for this moment. And believe it when people say IF/WHEN R’s take the House and Senate and Presidency in 2025, McConnell will absolutely remove the filibuster to make abortion illegal across the United States. Dems wouldn’t touch the filibuster, but oh friends, McConnell absolutely will. No doubt. Women, already, who are facing difficult and life threatening pregnancies are being turned away for health care, some traveling great distances, if they can, to find treatment.
From Puck journalist Julia Ioffe:
‘It turns out that telling people to vote and vote and vote some more in a system designed for minority rule, and where gerrymandering requires the Democrats to produce bigger and bigger turnout for smaller and smaller margins in Washington, can start to ring a bit hollow. How can you vote and win—and yet still lose so badly? Through the din of rage on social media and spontaneous protest in the street, even the most dedicated Democrats could hear the unmistakable, echoing sound of defeat.’
We voted in droves in 2018 and 2020. For this? Minority rule. It’s feeling rather dire. Memes, marching, and poems don’t seem to be working. In the United States, you know what does? Power, profit, greed, systemic patriarchy, violence, and dark money.
More from Bill:
#SCOTUS did horrible things this week. ‘Amtrak Joe needs to go all-in.’ ‘Biden should announce in the 134 days between now and the Nov election he will board a train and criss cross America making the case for this republic.’ ♡
‘Suddenly he’s Harry Truman, waging an against-the-odds campaign in 1948. You know the last president to pull the presidential train car out of mothballs? A reasonably good politician named Ronald Reagan, in 1984. Amtrak Joe needs to go all-in.’ #AmtrakJoe
Link to the full article:
Joe Biden Could Save America by Going on a Train Trip
Fight for us, Mr. President. Is that too much to ask?