In the United States, the consequences of a term in the White House are extended, beyond the maximum eight years in office, through the judiciary. The reason why it is important to have a Democratic president is, therefore, the Supreme Court.
Donald Trump was not only a deplorable president for one term and attempted a coup to stay in office by sending the reactionary hordes to Capitol Hill, but he changed the physiognomy of the Supreme Court in a strategy that will have repercussions for decades to come.
Trump appointed in a single four-year term three of the nine Supreme Court justices and 30% of appellate courts. Basically, he opted for white men under the age of 50 whose flat earth-like decisions will affect generations to come.
"We won't go back"
Thousands of angry women shouted "We won't go back" in recent months during demonstrations called after a leak revealed the Supreme Court was ready to put an end to abortion rights. Today this has become a firm decision overturning the previous Roe v. Wade (1973) decision and ending the constitutional right to abortion for pregnancies under 23 weeks. It was of little use that two thirds of Americans were in favour of the original ruling and 57%, according to a poll by the Wall Street Journal, are in favour of the right to free abortion.
Thus, a green light is given to states to regulate abortion and in 26 states governed by the Republicans it is more than likely that restrictions will be imposed which will make abortion a crime. Interference in women's lives, health, aspirations and ideology will not put an end to abortions, but will condemn many women without economic and vital resources to illegality, health insecurity and fear of their sexuality, motherhood and future. Becoming pregnant will be a burden for many women whose privacy will be violated in the name of a law that is above their freedom and their physical and mental health.
Half of abortions in the U.S. are for medical reasons and there is no reason to believe that women will stop having abortions if their lives are at risk. They will access the most common medication through the Internet and legislation will turn them into criminals if in some states, as is the case of the Missouri's proposal, the shipment of this kind of medication is qualified as drug trafficking.
The US Supreme Court's decision is a sinister step backwards for women's freedom in a country that was once one of the great liberal democracies. A country that is becoming darker and more polarised, and that is perhaps, once again, ahead of many developments in Europe.
At the moment, the backlash is frightening. That the illiberal battle is once again being played out on women's bodies is a slap in the face of many years of political struggle and reflection. In Essays on Sexual Equality by John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor Mill, which they wrote together in 1860, one can read that "the social subordination of women arises as an isolated fact in the midst of modern social institutions; as a solitary violation of what has become their fundamental law; as the only vestige of an old world of thought and custom which have collapsed in all other respects, but which remain in this one point of the greatest universal interest." They were wrong, because it was not the only vestige, but they knew how to warn against the current about what had to be the great future revolution, that of women's rights.
One year earlier, now 163 years ago, in On Liberty, Mill wrote that "the individual owes no account to society for his acts, inasmuch as these do not concern the interests of any other person, but himself". "The only purpose for which power can, with full right, be exercised over a member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent him from injuring the rest. His own physical or moral good is not sufficient justification." In the supposed land of freedom, freedom has limits for women.
Times are changing and with every passing day the U.S. is becoming more and more reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's terrifying book The Handmaid's Tale. A world where the highest goal assigned to women is motherhood and where their rights are subject to external decisions about their bodies. Protecting their freedom seems like an endless job with reversals and rights that can never be taken for granted. The defence of democracy and individual rights is an infinite loop when trying to stop the real revolution in progress, which is, still today, that of equality and women's rights.