May 5, 2022 - 7:00am

I awoke this week aghast to discover that the Supreme Court in America has voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

The 1973 decision ruled that the constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to have an abortion without unreasonable government restrictions. It expunged many US federal and state abortion laws, replacing them with a woman’s right to choose.

Ever since that decision, American conservatives have fought to remove the rights of women to choose if and when we give birth. Removing these rights will affect all women, but most of all, those who are black, poor, and the victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse. They will be forced to carry their pregnancies to term in a country that has no paid maternity leave and, in addition, has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world.

Political and religious organisations that claim to be “pro-life” but do not support the provision of excellent, free maternity care as well as paid maternity leave, are showing their true colours; they are not pro-life, they are anti-woman. The right to control our own reproduction is the bedrock of women’s liberation from abusive relationships.

Some argue that abortion stays at the same rate per capita whether it’s legal or banned. But what this doesn’t take into account is the number of women that die from illegal abortion, and the number of women that suffer ongoing health effects from unwanted pregnancies, both physical and psychological. And of course, such statistics can never measure the number of babies that are born through enforced pregnancy — not to mention the problems that arise after birth.

And what help for the women in the US now? So-called progressives, including those who claim to be feminists, have lost sight of issues like women’s sexual and reproductive freedom and self-determination. Instead, their big ticket issues are the rights of transwomen to access female-only spaces. When these groups deny the reality and significance of biological sex, it’s no wonder that issues such as abortion rights go down the pan. Progressives can shout ‘Hands off my body” until they are hoarse, but when women ask for the same rights to be free of sexual assault in jail by transwoman, they are accused of bigotry and hatred.

The US is not a feminist-friendly country — far from it. Some states barely have any decent sex education, leaving young women with little understanding of how pregnancy occurs or how to prevent it. Feminists will have to fight this state by state, in an endless war of attrition against well-funded and well-organised religious and political groups. Meanwhile, women and girls, who may have been raped, will now be forced to carry their unwanted pregnancies to term in a country with poor maternity protection. It is an act of callous disregard for women. 

Julie Bindel is an investigative journalist, author, and feminist campaigner. Her latest book is Feminism for Women: The Real Route to Liberation. She also writes on Substack.