'Holding People Accountable, with Love and Respect': An interview with activist Loretta Ross.

Date01 June 2022
AuthorStockwell, Norman

Loretta Ross is a lifelong feminist and anti-racist activist co-founder of the Southern-based, women-of-color-led reproductive justice organization SisterSong, and associate professor of the study of women and gender at Smith College. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Ms. magazine, and elsewhere. We spoke by telephone on May 3, the day after the leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade was made public.

Q: What is your reaction to the leaked draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito?

Loretta Ross: I can't honestly say I'm surprised because I believe the Republicans have been packing the Supreme Court [for a long time]. Their primary reason is to protect themselves from prosecution for their criminal activities. They always want the Supreme Court to be their backstop in case they lose at the lower court level.

The second reason is to appeal to their base with the culture issues, so abortion and being tough on immigration and pulling back the little bit of inching forward they've done on LGBTQ+ rights. That's also their agenda.

There's a third possible reason, and that is the threat to elections. They learned in the 2000 election that what matters is not the popular vote but how the court decides who won. And so in a contested election, they get the final decision.

Q: What options are now going to be available to people, assuming that the court does move on with this agenda of overturning Roe v. Wade?.

Ross: What's going to happen, in a very practical way, is that we in the women's movement are going to do what we always do, which is center the needs of women in our lens and ensure that we provide more self-managed abortions. We call those SMAs, where you take abortion pills. There's going to be more suction abortions because we have abortion kits that were invented more than forty years ago that we haven't had to rely on as much with the availability of clinics. And there's going to be an abortion underground where people go to friendlier states to get services if they have the means to get there.

So women are going to be taking care of business, no matter what the law, the state, the church, or the men say, because that's what we do. It's the most vulnerable women that, as an activist, I have to keep in the center of the lens. Are we going to have an "Underground Railroad"? Are we going to be smuggling abortion pills? Are we going to be paying for people to take flights? Will we be doing more...

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