AuthorConniff, Ruth

The morning after the terrible news broke about the draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, I called my homebirth midwife, Ingrid Andersson. Ingrid is my hero. She helped me in the home births of my three daughters. No one is more dedicated than she is to women's health and bodily autonomy, to creating a warm, nurturing environment for children and families, and to fighting like hell for reproductive justice.

I wanted to talk to someone who knows that defending women's rights and caring about babies and children are not opposing values. Contrary to the anti-abortion billboards that I've seen popping up everywhere recently--including one near my kids' school featuring two little girls nuzzling a cute newborn sibling--the people who want to force us to give birth against our will are not guardians of family values and loving bonds between parents and children.

Closer to the truth is Laura Bassett, who reports in Jezebel that Justice Samuel Alito's leaked draft opinion striking down Roe relies heavily on a seventeenth-century English judge who had two women executed for "witchcraft."

Bassett digs into a treatise by Sir Matthew Hale, cited approvingly by Alito, calling abortion a "great crime."

In the exact same text, Hale also wrote a ringing defense of marital rape: "For the husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract the wife hath given up herself in this kind unto her husband which she cannot retract."

The modern anti-abortion movement, Bassett concludes, "is an outgrowth of many centuries of virulent misogyny and violence against women."

Ingrid, whose work is part of the long struggle for women's reproductive freedom, agrees.

"It's a sad day," she said when I reached her. "But it's saddest for people like my parents." In the 1960s, Ingrid's mother sought an illegal abortion in Chicago--a procedure she could have accessed legally in her country of origin, Sweden. But she couldn't afford to fly home. "It turned her into a political activist for life. And I inherited that," Ingrid says.

Her parents, now in their eighties, were grief stricken when they heard about the Supreme Court's draft decision. It feels to them as though a lifetime of work fighting for reproductive justice is going up in smoke.

But Ingrid has a different take.

"I'm not grief stricken," she says, "because I know it's not all lost."

For the last several years, Ingrid has been...

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