Shortly after the Supreme Court overturned privacy rights over women’s health, state politicians began arguing for and against abortion rights, access to birth control and sex education for the citizens under their control.
Because abortion rights were included in some ballots, citizens could choose whether or not to codify access to reproductive health care and rights into their state’s constitution—those in California made sure to protect women’s rights.
With the incorporation of Prop 1 language into the state’s constitution, we are now able to freely and privately choose whether or not to have an abortion, have access to birth control, and use birth control at will. Looking at the language used in this life-changing proposal, it seems almost hysterical that it says on the ballot that reproductive health care rights are up for grabs, but alas, that is the reality for the entire country.
After the fall of Roe v. Wade scared me and the tears started to flow. It felt like our whole country had traveled 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 my family and friends were mostly safe, but what if I move east after college? The question of my safety and the many who lived in red states was paramount.
Only five states had abortion and reproductive health care rights proposals in this election; The fighting in these states could be heard loudly across the country. If we could secure women’s right to their own bodies in these states, it meant that people in other states could find safety here if they needed it.
Every generation of women flocked to polling stations and mailed ballots earlier this week to voice their desire for abortion, reproductive health rights and the rights of future women in California.
This wasn’t an easy choice for us Californians; We needed this victory for our safety, our sanity, and future generations. There were many emotions as I filled the circle under Pillar 1: fear of losing our rights, hope for a revised constitution that protects even more citizens, and longing for a more secure future.
As I watched the number next to “Yes on Prop 1” steadily increase on election night, tears of joy not only tumbled down my face but also not down the faces of the women around me – they sat terrified.
To hear as a woman that Roe v. Wade felt like a permanent life sentence for always having to watch my back. Plans were made with families and loved ones of those who could afford to seek asylum in states with reproductive health care should anything happen.
According to the Centers for Disease and Control, one in three women will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives, which means we already live with this constant fear of assault. Yet now we face the fact that we may not get a chance to reclaim our bodies as our own.
With this victory for California voters, families can now focus on life and the future again instead of having to create a plan-b. However, as we celebrate, our hearts still mourn for our sisters living in the 29 states where abortion is now illegal, not protected, or trigger laws in place; because despite our victory and the victories of 20 other states, many others lost that battle in this week’s midterm elections.
That’s why our win in California doesn’t really feel like a real win. Sure, we’re more secure in our rights and bodies, but there are many across the country who are being forced into lives they don’t or never want.
It’s an overwhelming sense of relief and pride to say we live in California, especially after this week. Our tears no longer flow from fear, but from the security and knowledge that future generations of Californians have this constitutional right.
Since Election Day, people have been celebrating on social media, enthusiastic words have been heard on college campuses, thanking young voters for showing up to vote. But the loss of abortion rights from other states is also haunted. Even with that victory, anger fills the hearts of many Californians as they reflect on the fact that many Americans do not have access to birth control or abortions, even if without them they would be at medical risk.
So, in our moment of celebration and victory, don’t let that stray too far from the fact that we may have won, but there are many out there who still live in constant fear of losing the rights to their own bodies. The fight to protect our physical autonomy in this country is not quite over.