South Dakota’s Democratic Party establishment has a hard time speaking out boldly for women’s reproductive rights. Too often South Dakota Democrats not only remain silent against but facilitate the SDGOP‘s deceitful war on women’s equality. South Dakota Democrats nominate for Governor a conservative legislator who has called for overturning Roe v. Wade, thinking that help Democrats win elections.
But if we don’t fight for women’s reproductive autonomy—and at the moment, specifically, if we don’t mobilize against Texas’s newly enacted Senate Bill 8, the radical vigilante abortion ban, and similar legislative attacks women’s constitutional rights—we are ceding vital ground on voter rights, economic justice, the rule of law, and numerous other issues that Republicans would crush in favor of their desired white supremacist theocracy.
It’s all connected, says author and activist Sikivu Hutchinson:
It’s important to contextualize the assault on abortion as part and parcel of the white supremacist backlash against voting rights, workers’ rights, LGBTQI+ equity, climate change, and secular freedoms. The Supreme Court’s Christian Nationalist agenda underscores the devastating public health and safety threat that white supremacy poses. Not only will draconian restrictions on abortion further destabilize the lives of poor and working class women of color with no safety net but they will widen the multigenerational wealth gap in communities disrupted by the pandemic.
Nationwide, Black and Latinx essential women workers continue to experience the brunt of pandemic shutdowns, downsizing, and lack of child care. And, as many have pointed out, SB 8’s sanction of Orwellian surveillance, vigilantism, and lawsuits against folks who assist with abortion access will reestablish the back-alley culture that existed before Roe.
Just as this recent SCOTUS decision exemplified the theocratic authority of cisgendered white men, the gutting of Roe is a product of grassroots white patriarchal terror—the long heinous campaign of abortion clinic blockades, bombings, stalking, and physician murders that laid the groundwork for Texas and has its corollary in the January 6th terrorist attack on the Capitol [Sikivu Hutchinson, “The Gutting of ‘Roe’ Isn’t About Religion, It’s a Product of White Terror,” Religion Dispatches, 2021.09.14].
Democrats, we must speak truth to power on all issues, including women’s reproductive rights. Even if you don’t have a uterus, the attack on abortion rights is an attack on your rights. To speak with authority on issues of equality and justice, Democrats must nominate candidates in South Dakota and Texas and everywhere else who will say without equivocation that women have the right to control their bodies.