Alyssa Milano: Biden must do more to protect abortion rights

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Illustration composed by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty

Just half a century ago, things were looking up for women in America. In 1972, Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment which, when ratified by 38 states, would enshrine constitutional equality for all of us. And then, in 1973, the Supreme Court guaranteed women the freedom to control their own bodies when it affirmed the right to abortion in Roe vs. Wade. But now, fifty years later, women are weeks away from losing our most basic protections and bodily autonomy to the cowardice of our government and a decades-long campaign by the far right to control us. and commodify us. We can’t let it rest – and the good news is, we don’t have to, if the president just grows a pair of ovaries and takes action.

For generations of women like me, who were born around or after the time of the roe deer decision, the right to abortion is acquired, even if access to abortion care is not. Most people don’t know – Judge Alito certainly doesn’t seem to know – but abortion was legal in our country until the late 1800s, when elected extremists criminalized our ability to control our bodies. In the decades that elapsed between this dangerous government overreach and the roe deer decision (and in the decades that followed), women fought hard for the basic rights of American existence: the right to vote, to work, to earn equal pay, and to decide if, how, and when we want to have children – rights that men have always enjoyed and enjoyed. Recently I made a short video with Now this which covers the history of abortion in America and explores the long and passionate efforts of women who have worked tirelessly for these protections. I hope you will watch it and share it with everyone you know.

The Supreme Court and radicalized anti-women officials in state governments are poised to roll back women over 150, to those early anti-abortion laws of the 1800s. roe deer falls, and it looks like it will, dozens of states will criminalize abortion. Many states will even prohibit terminating a pregnancy in cases of rape or incest. In the first four months of 2022 alone, at least 546 abortion restrictions were introduced. Thirty-seven have been signed into law in 10 states so far this year. Eighty-six abortion bans were introduced in 31 states, six of which – Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Wyoming – enacted. Oklahoma’s new law is the toughest, banning nearly all abortions beginning with fertilization and weaponizing citizen vigilantes to sue health care providers or anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion. And it’s worse: some politicians try to prevent abortions even when the mother’s life is in danger. And somehow, these people still have the temerity to call themselves pro-life.

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The Equal Rights Amendment states that “equal rights under law shall not be denied or restricted by the United States or any state on the basis of sex.” In 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify this amendment, yet it is still not in the Constitution. Why? Because Congress put an arbitrary and cynical poison pill in the preamble of the amendment limiting the time for its ratification, and anti-women forces used that language to block its passage. However, prominent constitutional scholars argue that the preamble is not part of the amendment and is not binding language, and that the ERA is duly ratified.

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Is there anything more blatantly discriminatory on the basis of sex than denying access to health care to only one sex? Right now, President Biden could pressure the National Archivist to release the ERA, which would make it the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. We must ensure that women have EQUAL rights enshrined in the Constitution, not reduce or roll back the rights they already have. It is mind-boggling that he is instead following in the footsteps of Donald Trump. Women helped elect President Biden. Now we are reclaiming our investment. He must do everything in his power to enshrine our rights as Americans and to our own bodies in the Constitution. And he has to do it today, before SCOTUS backs down roe deer.

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If you think the radical right will stop at abortion, you need to think again. As late as 1974, women in some parts of the country could not get a credit card without their husband’s permission. The right to acquire and use birth control is in jeopardy. Title IX protections could be dismantled as the anti-woman right continues its attacks on trans women and trans children. And despite their incessant lies that the dismantling of roe deer will simply allow states to determine women’s rights within their own borders, these extremists are clearly working towards a nationwide ban on abortion.

Women have always been less numerous in this country. This fact is the antithesis of everything we are taught about the United States, yet it has persisted for centuries. And unless President Biden or Congress fixes the problem, right now it’s about to get worse for us. I hope you’ll watch my video on abortion, gather all your patriotism and courage, and join me in loud and clear demanding that President Biden protect the women who put him where he was. is pushing to enshrine equal rights in our Constitution as early as this second. Tomorrow may be too late.

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