June 27, 2022
From my daughter-in-law: “I can’t believe that my daughters will grow up with fewer rights than I grew up with. “
That really struck me. I remember when reproductive rights and abortion were not protected. I remember the dangers to women who sought to make their own decisions about their bodies and their pregnancies. But my kids have never known anything except those rights.
When I look at what has happened and is escalating in this country, I am terribly saddened. I am starting to feel like we are pawns in a chess game and that we are in a very poor position to win the game. The odds are increasingly stacked against us.
In Arizona, I watched this year as many bills were presented in our state legislature to limit voting accessibility. I even attended an Arizona Senate committee hearing about voting rights. It was appalling. We have been successfully managing mail-in and early balloting here in Arizona since 1992, and 80-90 percent of Arizonans use this system. But at the hearing, the people who spoke to support huge changes in our balloting quoted “experts” on voting. I looked up three of the “experts” on my phone as I sat there and listened. Every one of them was a conspiracy theorist; one had even been protesting at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.
Fortunately, almost all these attempts to make it harder to vote here have failed….so far. I guarantee they will all be raised next year in the next state legislative session. I am currently collecting signatures to put the question of continuing mail-in/early balloting here in Arizona on the ballot in November, so that the voters can speak.
Our state legislature is, of course, loaded with Republicans. But changes in only a few seats would move it to a slim Democratic majority. I have never understood how important state elections are more fully than now. We spend so much time talking about the national seats, but the state level is really where the change has to happen. Especially now that we have a Supreme Court majority that thinks states should make constitutional decisions for all of us.
I am angry that there hasn’t been a bigger push to pass the Women’s Equality Act. It’s just been hanging out there for years as women slip back into more and more traditional role expectations. I am angry that we have a Congress that is unable to pass laws that adequately protect our people–from guns, from a minority that wants to control us, from environmental hazards.
I loved this line in a tweet I saw yesterday: “I will never forget that abortion became illegal before AR-15s.”
So here’s where we are: State legislatures run by Republicans who believe the Big Lie and who are trying (and in some cases succeeding) to make it more difficult for people to cast their votes. Threats to put people into office who will ignore the will of the people and instead replace electors with those who will vote for the candidate they want…legally! An ex-president who continues to lie in the face of incredible and increasing proof that he lost the election he still insists he won. A mass of people who have been willing to do what Trump wants, and who are harassing government officials and poll workers. A Supreme Court that has been sufficiently altered so that we can certainly no longer refer to it as the “Roberts Court,” or pretend that it is not engaged in political rather than legal decisions.
As I watch the House committee hearings about January 6th, I am impressed that the Republicans they are interviewing told the truth (eventually…maybe not in the moment) because they believe in the rule of law (or because they didn’t want to risk being prosecuted?). However, I am struck by how few of them there are, that such a small group of elected officials are hanging on to protect democracy. Why aren’t there more?
We spend a lot of time watching and reading opinions about how we got to this place. I have friends who are honestly considering leaving the country. I have friends who fear we are seeing history that replicates the early days of Nazi Germany.
My question is, What do we do about it?
My answer is to increase my involvement in organizations and tasks that support my beliefs.
I volunteer with Stand Indivisible, helping to get the vote out.
During the Arizona legislative session, I spend an hour or so every Sunday on “Request to Speak,” a platform that allows citizens to give opinions on bills submitted by our legislators, giving my opinions on the hundreds of bills, many of them totally insane, that are being considered by the state legislature.
I support Planned Parenthood with a monthly donation, something I have done for years.
I write postcards, make phone calls, knock on doors to encourage voting.
I am increasing my support of the National Council of Jewish Women here in Arizona. They are advocating for issues that I hold dear regarding women’s rights and immigration.
I participate in protest when I can, marching at the Arizona Capitol with many others.
I was just invited to join a new Facebook group named A Day Without Women, to create a day when women stay home from work and don’t spend any money. They want to show the economic and social impact that women make in a day. I think it’s about 24 hours old and already 32,000 people have joined the group. Word of mouth is amazing in the social network age.
I am still working full-time at my profession and I wish I had more time for these activities. When the time comes that I decide to retire, my volunteer time will be about promoting democracy. I never thought I’d see a day when there would be any question about saving democracy in the U.S….but we have reached that time.
Sandy Adler / Scottsdale, Arizona
Sandy Adler (email@example.com) is a lifelong businesswoman and devoted secular Jew who has a strong belief in Tikkun Olam (repairing the world). When she is not helping her clients with their residential real estate needs, she can be found enjoying her wonderful family and supporting the causes that are most dear to her. Sandy believes we can and should all try to make a difference!
Thinking about how last week’s Supreme Court decision on Roe overwhelmed the news coverage of the January 6th hearings, I have come to the conclusion that both events are really different acts in the potential tragedy facing American democracy. The restrictions on the autonomy of woman to control their destinies are, in fact, a diminution of their status as American citizens. The ability of a state to hijack a women’s body and force her to bear a child of rape or incest, even from conception, can only be described as the type of power we would usually call tyrannical or autocratic if we were talking about another country.
Similarly, the steps taken by Donald Trump and his acolytes to circumvent our laws and disrupt the peaceful transfer of power (pioneered by our earliest citizens in 1800), can only be described as worthy of modern-day autocrats like Putin or Orbán.
It is for this reason, the preservation of our democracy, that like-minded men and woman must work together to persuade others that candidates’ positions on Trump’s power grab and the Roe decision
should be litmus tests for casting their votes in the upcoming elections. No doubt this is a tough sell during economic hard times, when people are suffering. But as we have seen in other times and countries, once the door is closed on democracy, it is rarely opened again.
Doug Dworkin / New York City
Doug Dworkin is a former junior high school teacher, encyclopedia editor, and IT executive at IBM. Now retired, he Is beginning a new career as a professional dabbler and dilettante.
Last week, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his opinion striking down the New York concealed-carry gun law: “We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need. It is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense.”
Yet yesterday, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, holding that there is no longer a federal constitutional right to an abortion. So how is it there’s a right to carry a gun? Going forward, abortion rights will be determined by the states, but the court overruled New York? Justice Thomas knows of no other constitutional right that requires government permission? Oops--did he forget reproductive rights? I’m sorry, I’m confused.
Abortion is not an easy decision, but it is a private one and privacy is allegedly constitutionally guaranteed, though that is a matter of interpretation, of course. I had to make a decision, many decades ago, to terminate a pregnancy and it was not simple. But the viability of the fetus, not the unborn, dictated that it was the correct medical decision. I also recall taking a dormmate for an illegal abortion in Michigan way back in 1970, then having to tend to her emotional and physical needs as well as the fear of being found guilty of a crime. I petitioned for legal access to abortion in those same years. And here we go again.
The conversation has to change to health as a human right, a woman’s right to make her own health decisions, among which is reproductive health. Tell me one example where a man’s health decision is determined by law. You can’t. There isn’t any. Perhaps vasectomies need to be banned, perhaps men have to be held accountable, perhaps pay for their role. Only under certain circumstances do women get pregnant on their own but it is after using a man’s sperm.
I attended a rally last night in my town center. It was small but mighty, with politicians, parents, children, men, women. All were there in defiance and disbelief. This would have been a nonevent had not a rogue Supreme Court disregarded what they’d previously decided and affirmed as precedent, not to be overturned.
Helene Bednarsh / Sharon, Mass.
Helene Bednarsh is the dental director for the New England AIDS Education and Training center and the vice president of HIVDENT.org. She retired from the Boston Public Health Commission, where she established the first oral health access program for people with HIV under the Ryan White CARE Act. Helene has published extensively and is passionate about her lifelong work.