My Turn: The luxury of privilege

For the Monitor
Published: 12/3/2021 6:00:52 AM
Modified: 12/3/2021 6:00:19 AM

Earlier this week, Governor Sununu stated during his weekly COVID-19 press conference that he’s “not really paying attention” to the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health case, claiming that the case being heard this week at the U.S. Supreme Court “does not decide Roe v. Wade.”

I was so struck by this statement. First, that it was so inaccurate. The threat is real. The state of Mississippi has specifically asked the Court, in this case, to overturn Roe. A ruling to uphold Mississippi’s ban would gut our right to make fundamental decisions about our health, our lives and our futures.

But also, I was struck that someone who is charged with leading the state of New Hampshire, and who recently signed the first abortion ban in modern New Hampshire history and a government-forced ultrasound requirement on anyone who will seek an abortion in our state, did not feel the need to pay attention to such a consequential case that could impact the lives of so many of the people he represents. What a privilege that must be.

As a woman, as a mother and as a person who cares deeply about every individual’s right to self-determination and right to make their own reproductive choices, I do not have that same privilege. I cannot change the channel. I cannot turn off the television. I cannot turn away from this without a second thought.

For those of us born after 1973, the year Roe made abortion legal in all fifty states, an environment in which women cannot access the care they need used to be unthinkable. Like other women my age, I grew up with the knowledge that I would have full control over my reproductive future, a right that allowed me to go to college, law school, have a career, run for office and become a mother when I was ready.

But despite widespread public support for safe, legal abortion, six out of nine justices could soon dismantle abortion rights in our country, meaning the generation behind me may not have this same right.

This decision could impact all of us. Not only could it set a precedent that our bodies are not our own and that the government gets to decide the course of our future, but it could also enshrine that women, and all those with the ability to reproduce, are not considered equal.

That we are not considered trustworthy enough to make our own reproductive choices or worthy enough to understand the gravity of the extremely personal decision to terminate a pregnancy. It’s breathtaking.

There is no doubt that an individual’s ability to access abortion care is a matter of equality and liberty and is essential for social, economic, gender and racial equality in this country. To not pay attention is a privilege and to put it bluntly, it is disrespectful and dismissive to those whose rights are all on the line as we wait for a decision in this case.

I truly hope that in the coming days Gov. Sununu starts paying attention. In the meantime, I implore the people of New Hampshire who value liberty and who believe that people should be trusted to control their own bodies, lives and futures, call the governor and let him know that we are paying attention and we are not looking away.

(Sen. Becky Whitley represents Senate District 15 – Concord, Henniker, Hopkinton and Warner.)




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