Column: Speak out, speak now


Photo credit: Charlotte Tragos

Thousands gather in Downtown Los Angeles May 14th to protest the preliminary decision to overturn Roe V. Wade, a set precedent. The choice by the Supreme Court is evidence of dangerous continued attacks on the most vulnerable.

By Charlotte Tragos, Columnist

Martin Niemöller lived in Nazi Germany. After World War II, Niemöller spoke about the failure of Germans to stop Hitler and their complicity in his crimes. 

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist,” he said in a postwar speech. “Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Niemöller’s words are a timely reminder of how being neutral, uninformed and apathetic in the face of injustice will cause irreversible harm to yourself and others.

And, you will be at fault.

We heard in May 2021 that the Supreme Court would hear Dobbs V. Jackson. We knew that the Supreme Court, with a conservative majority, would overturn Roe V. Wade. We were told we were being dramatic; it would never happen. When women started stockpiling abortion pills, they were silly, stupid and irrational. When will you listen?

Privileged Californian women will not be impacted now. The impact will immediately fall on the shoulders of the most vulnerable people, people who knew this would happen. This may not be on your news cycle, but if others being harmed doesn’t impact you, they’re coming for you next. Your silence and refusal to speak out not only means your complicity but your own downfall. 

We know that Justice Alito referenced the landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges, which gives gay couples the right to marry, in his preliminary draft.

We know Obergefell v. Hodges stands on the shoulders of Griswold v. Connecticut, which gives people the right to use contraceptives.

We know that the right of privacy outlined in Roe V. Wade is protected in Loving v. Virginia, the landmark case that gave interracial couples the right to marry.

We know these cases are in imminent jeopardy.

We know that Congress will not save Roe V. Wade. Or perhaps cannot. We know that gridlock and the filibuster mean Congress will never reach a two-thirds majority to codify Roe, protection that would save the precedent.

With the midterm elections coming up, many young people will have the opportunity to vote for the first time. Like 2018, we can make change. We can be part of the solution. There is a chance that we can save Roe.

However, in the likely case that we cannot gain a majority in the Senate, we will have to take other action. Delete your period tracker as your right to privacy is compromised. Buy advanced provision abortion pills; you and people you know will need them soon. But only do so if you take digital precautions (using DuckDuckGo to order and Signal or Proton for any communication).

Voting won’t save the person who is pregnant today and needs to be unpregnant. Voting creates longer-term change. Now, we need to be our own heroes.

If you know someone who is having an abortion, send flowers and ask them about their experience. Don’t embrace secrecy and shame. Give practical and emotional support where you can. Volunteer for telemedicine abortion services, one of the only ways to get healthcare to women in red states. Educate your friends and family, and inspire others to get involved. Speak up. Protests and activism can change the decision.

We are not being dramatic; you are being ignorant. Listen. Learn more. Speak out.