It’s summertime… Yeah!… Yeah?
It’s been a hot, disorienting, and mostly regressive beginning to the summer.
I wish I could wear my rosy sunglasses and see la vie en rose, but my sunglasses have increasingly darkened in June.
The Roe v. Wade decision – the 1973 Federal decision that recognized a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy -was overturned after almost 50 years. I woke up the day afterward, a Saturday morning, June 25, 2022, remembering with nostalgia what it was like to live in France 30 years ago as a young woman.
Based on the calculation of my parents’ taxes, I had received a scholarship to go to the university. University in France was free at the time, and the scholarship was for food, housing, and school supplies.
At the end of my undergraduate studies, I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to do with my life. So, I tried my hand at different jobs. In between each job, I had access to unemployment – an allowance based on my salary and how long I had worked, that allowed me not to be debilitated by scarcity, while I was trying to find my way in life.
During this exploratory time, I had access to healthcare for free as well as free medication, contraception, and if necessary, abortion.
My mother didn’t have such easy access to education, contraception, and abortion. She would tell us the story – with tenderness- that it was the reason why we (my siblings and I) were born. In her case, it was for the best.
Nevertheless, providing options and resources about reproductive rights has been an incredible advancement for women’s health, well-being, autonomy, and agency.
Thanks to Simone Weil, my sister and I had more access and resources than our mother.
Simone Weil was a French Holocaust survivor, who became Minister of Health in 1974. She was asked by the conservative French president of the time – Valery Giscard D’Estaing – to push through a law legalizing abortion in France.
In retrospect, I notice that having access and resources didn’t prevent me at times from feeling the terror – probably transgenerational– of having an accidental and undesired pregnancy that would destroy my life choices.
I can imagine that the United States 1973 Roe v. Wade law was influential in the passing of the French law in 1974. That’s how political trends work. For the better and the worse.
France in the 80’s wasn’t a perfect society – we had racism, and bigotry too- but the social support system was solid, and we thought, unquestionable.
The Roe v. Wade overturn feels like another surge of the dying beast of colonization who can’t let go of its obsolete agenda. A dying and oppressive beast that needs to control or squash any sign of minorities’ emancipation, and egalitarianism to maintain its domination. It seems in vain; evolution is inevitable when the will of minorities becomes the majority. But in the meantime, the dying beast doesn’t mind destroying the ship and all the passengers on it.
Alright, I don’t need to wear my gloomy and righteous sunglasses either. What good does it do?
I can wear my cool sunglasses, like a star, not to put up a barrier between me and other people (it’s hard, I know) not to hide myself from their judgments or from reality, but to show up with style, dignity, and confidence. After all, this is the right frame of mind to activate positive change and ultimately achieve a more egalitarian society.
The universe is expanding, slowly and inevitably, and so are our human rights. Let’s keep faith alive.