Soon after the Supreme Court overturned the right to privacy when it comes to women’s health, state politicians began arguing for and against abortion rights, birth control access and sex education for the citizens residing under their control.
With abortion rights being included on some ballots, citizens could decide whether or not they wanted to codify reproductive healthcare access and rights in their state’s constitution — those in California have secured the protection of women’s rights.
With the inclusion of Prop 1 language in the state’s constitution, we are now able to freely, and privately, decide whether or not to have an abortion, gain access to birth control and use birth control as we feel. Looking at the language used in this life-altering proposition, it almost seems hysterical that it’s on the ballot, that reproductive healthcare rights is up for grabs, but sadly it’s the reality for the entire country.
After the overturning of Roe v. Wade, fear struck me, and the tears began to fall. It felt as if our entire country had gone back in time; women had lost the right to reproductive healthcare access in many states across the country.
I knew that living in California meant that for the most part, my family and friends were safe, but what about when I move east after college? The question about my safety, and the many who lived in red states, was in the forefront of my mind.
Only five states had propositions regarding abortions and reproductive healthcare rights this election; the fights in these states were heard loud across the country. If we could secure the women’s right to her own body in these states, it meant those in other states might find security here when needed.
Each generation of women swarmed polling locations earlier this week, as well as mailed in ballots, to voice their desire for abortion access, reproductive healthcare rights and the rights of future women of California.
This was not a light election for us Californians; we needed this win for our safety, our sanity and future generations. There were many emotions as I filled in the circle sitting under Prop 1: fear of losing our rights, hope for a revised constitution that protects even more citizens and the longing for a more secure future.
Watching the number sitting next to “Yes on Prop 1” on election night steadily increase caused tears of joy to flow down not only my face but not in the faces of the women around me — they sat in fear.
As a woman, hearing Roe v. Wade was being overturned felt like a permanent life sentence of always having to watch my back. Plans were created with families and loved ones of those who could afford to seek asylum in states with reproductive healthcare if something were to happen.
According to the Centers for Disease and Control, one in three women are sexually assaulted at some point in their lives, which means we already live with this constant fear of being assaulted. Yet, now we face the fact we might not get any chance to reclaim our bodies as our own.
With this win for California voters, families are now able to refocus on life and futures rather than having to create a plan-b. However, as we celebrate, our hearts still grieve for our sisters living in the 29 states where abortion is now illegal, not protected or have trigger laws in effect; because despite our win, and the wins of 20 other states, many others lost this fight in midterm elections this week.
This is why our win in California doesn’t truly feel like a real win. Sure, we are more safe in our rights and bodies, but there are many across the country that are being forced into a life they don’t, or never, want.
There’s an overwhelming sense of relief and pride to say we live in California, especially after this week. Fear is no longer the cause for our tears, rather they flow because of the safety and knowledge that future generations of Californians now have this right explicitly stated in the constitution.
Since Election Day, people celebrate on social media, words of excitement can be heard on college campuses and thank yous to young voters for showing up to vote. But there is also the haunting of the loss of abortion rights from other states. Even with this win, anger fills the hearts of many Californians as they ponder the fact that many Americans are stuck with no access to birth control or abortions, even if they are in medical danger without it.
So in our moment of celebration and victory, don’t let your mind stray too far from the fact that we might have won, but there are many out there who are still living in constant fear of losing rights to their own body. The fight to protect our bodily autonomy in this country is not quite over.