By Sarah Cassidy | Photo: Ted Eytan
As a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, I’ve struggled with identity. I was born and raised in the U.S. but am the daughter of two Canadians.
Growing up I was exposed to American and Canadian politics, from what I learned in school to what I heard on the news and at home. In high school, I was taught politics from the American point of view, without learning much about the Canadian political system. When it was time for me to go to university, I decided to accept my offer to attend the University of Toronto. As a Political Science major, I took American political courses from the Canadian perspective, along with taking multiple Canadian government classes.
Living in Toronto for the past 4.5 years, many of my experiences discussing politics have been met with negative reactions. People have commented “Your personality is very American” or “I can tell you’re from the U.S.” While I often did not know whether to take these comments as mere observations or insults, for the most part, living through university and into my adult life in Canada, I have remained proud of my American citizenship and steadfast in my liberal beliefs.
But I no longer feel proud.
Instead, I feel ashamed.
Heartbroken. Furious. Disgusted. Afraid. Confused…The list goes on and on.
On Friday, June 24th, the United States’ Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, stripping the immense progress women’s civil rights, reproductive rights, and healthcare have made over the last 50 years.
The overturning of Roe vs. Wade has deemed a woman’s right to an abortion as “unconstitutional” and allows for states to ban the performance of the medical procedure immediately (I stress the word medical here because that is what an abortion is: a medical procedure meant to aid in the promotion of women’s health).
“I’ve spent the past few weeks contemplating my life, my body, and what I can do to help. I have never before felt so powerless and irrelevant.”
What this means is that women living in the United States are no longer full citizens. We no longer have control over our own bodies or healthcare. We no longer possess the bodily autonomy necessary to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, nor to take care of our bodies and health. We are no longer considered equal to a man. And we are no longer free.
I’ve spent the past few weeks contemplating my life, my body, and what I can do to help. I have never before felt so powerless and irrelevant. I have never felt as hopeless, angry, confused, scared, or heartbroken as I do now. And I have never felt so alone.
We have been betrayed by our government — the very institution meant to protect and preserve our human rights. Yet, those essential rights have been violated, even though the majority of Americans disagree with the decision.
We can sit here and talk about the sheer hypocrisy of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the picking and choosing of the Biblical verse, “Thou shall not kill,” and deciding which issues to apply that to. Obviously, it was absent in their decision to strip states of their autonomy to enact gun-carrying restrictions, making it a Constitutional right to carry a gun outside the home (in a year with at least 314 mass shootings by Independence Day).
I will never be able to explain or justify the malicious, uneducated, and illogical rulings of the five Republican Supreme Court Justices who voted to overturn Roe vs. Wade. I can name their names, scream “DOWN WITH THE PATRIARCHY,” ask “Where is our separation of church and state?” and wrack my brain to try to understand why this is happening.
But the thing is: it happened. It already is happening.
No matter what we feel, abortion bans are already in place. Women are already at risk of death. We can’t go back in time and change what has transpired.
Instead, we must act.
“This ruling affects more than half the population of the United States, but it is perhaps more importantly an example of a branch of government abusing its power to manipulate the Constitution to fit the minority’s wants.”
Over the past few weeks, I have seen videos of fellow Canadians, along with people of all nationalities, reacting to the overturning of Roe vs. Wade in the same way I felt. Seeing this almost universal reaction brought me to tears. It made me feel like the world was coming to our aid, recognizing the unimaginable attack on our humanity, and standing in solidarity with us. It made me feel supported, cared for, and loved by millions of people who didn’t care if we were American. They cared that we had lost our basic human right to bodily autonomy.
This ruling affects more than half the population of the United States, but it is perhaps more importantly an example of a branch of government abusing its power to manipulate the Constitution to fit the minority’s wants. It is an example of the assertion of religious beliefs, that should be completely separated from state acts, being used to oppress millions of people. It is an example of how power can be abused by those who yield it, and it will likely not stop here.
I know I said I felt alone. And I did. And I know there are millions of people who feel the same as I do at this very moment.
But we are not alone.
There are millions of women who feel the same pain that we do, not only in the U.S., but across the world. No matter who we are, where we’re from, who we love, or what we look like, we all share in this fight together, this blatant attack on women, this war on human rights.