Abortion ruling highlights the war against women in America. Time to fight back

·6 min read
<span>Photograph: Andrew DeMillo/AP</span>
Photograph: Andrew DeMillo/AP

The end of abortion rights in the US

Well, it finally happened. The fact that we all expected it, that we have spent the last few weeks waiting for this to happen, didn’t blunt the shock of it. On Friday the supreme court issued a decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe v Wade. Six unelected supreme court justices stripped bodily autonomy away from tens of millions of women and ended nearly 50 years of legal abortion rights in the US.

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It’s wrong to say that the US is going backwards. It’s wrong to say that the US is being transported back to the 70s, to a pre-Roe era. No. We are moving forward into something far more sinister. The pre-Roe era didn’t have the widespread surveillance mechanisms that exist today. Regressive laws can now be enforced with the help of modern technology: if you even so much as Google “abortion pill”, there is a chance your online search history could be used against you. If you leave your state to try to get a safe and legal abortion in a state where it is still permitted, your location data could be used against you. For the past decade we have been sleepwalking into a new era of digital authoritarianism. Now we are in the middle of a nightmare.

This nightmare, of course, is not evenly distributed. Friday’s decision will not affect everyone equally: abortion restrictions, it should be stressed, disproportionately harm poor people and women of colour. Male Republican politicians, on the other hand, will probably still be able to get their mistresses an abortion when it’s convenient for them.

The end of Roe is just the beginning of an all-out assault on civil rights in America. There have been signs for a while now that, emboldened by their progress on restricting abortion rights, conservatives are going to come after things like birth control and gay marriage. On Friday Justice Clarence Thomas issued a concurring opinion acknowledging that the supreme court was not going to stop with abortion. Now that Roe has been overturned, the supreme court, Thomas said in his opinion, should reconsider the landmark cases that protect the right to contraception, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage. (Just to refresh your memory, Thomas is the guy who has been accused of sexual harassment, and whose wife tried to overthrow the government.)

There is a war on women going on in America. There is a war on trans people. There is a war on gay people. There is a war on people of colour. There is a war on democracy. And guess what? Only one side of the government is really fighting. Roe v Wade wasn’t overturned just like that: it was the result of the Republicans spending decades consolidating power and working towards advancing their vision of America. Democrats need to stop their milquetoast simpering about “civility”, their obsession with taskforces and polite bipartisan agreements, and start properly fighting back.

The US government regulates women more than guns

Roe v Wade was overturned the day after the supreme court struck down 100-year-old New York gun restrictions that made it tough to carry a concealed handgun outside the home. In the same week, then, the supreme court ruled that states don’t have the right to pass their own gun-control laws but do have the right to pass their own women-control laws. Time to get uteruses reclassified as assault rifles, I guess.

Former chambermaid elected to French parliament

Rachel Keke, who used to be a hotel housekeeper and led a strike for better pay and conditions at a Paris hotel, beat President Emmanuel Macron’s former sports minister in Sunday’s legislative elections in France. She is now one of France’s few working-class MPs. While that’s exciting it should be noted that although Keke is on the left now, she has admitted sharing posts supporting the far-right leader Marine Le Pen during the 2017 elections.

Women are credited less in science than men

Women’s contributions to research are “often not known, not appreciated or ignored”, say the authors of a new study published in Nature. The study shows that in order to be credited on scientific articles, women need to work harder than men. The research focused on women, but the authors “saw similar patterns for people from other groups that are marginalized in science”.

Ukraine begins first trial of Russian soldier charged with rape

It’s the first of what could be dozens of such cases. Although the soldier is being tried in absentia, this trial is still incredibly important. Rape has always been a weapon of war (Christina Lamb describes it as the “cheapest weapon known to man”) and there is all-too-rarely any accountability.

Chinese city stripped of ‘civilised’ title after attack on female diners

Earlier this month a group of women were viciously attacked at a restaurant in the northern Chinese city of Tangshan. The attack was caught on video and made headlines around the world. Nine men have since been arrested and now Tangshan has been removed from China’s list of “national civilised cities”. If you’re wondering what on earth a civilised city is, there’s an explainer here.

‘Abhorrent and systemic’ culture of sexual abuse in Australian mining

A parliamentary inquiry published on Thursday found that mining in Western Australia is rife with misogyny and “sexual harassment is generally accepted or overlooked”.

Israeli gunfire killed journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh, UN says

The UN office for human rights is the latest body to say that Abu Aqleh was killed by Israeli forces. How many more investigations do there need to be before someone is held accountable?

The website saving home sewing history from the trash

“Scholarship around patterns and home sewing is still relatively underappreciated, often dismissed as women’s work or insignificant to fashion and art,” writes the Verge. The Commercial Pattern Archive is trying to change that; it has preserved about 65,000 home sewing patterns going back to the 1800s.

The week in parasite-archy

Ninety percent of us are home to horny little mites called Demodex folliculorum. Every night when we go to sleep, the tiny parasites emerge to have sex on our faces. And while that sounds pretty disgusting it turns out they probably keep our pores unplugged and our skin nice and fresh. Now, however, the mites are facing extinction. Perhaps not the most important threat we face at the moment, but a dermatological mite-mare nonetheless.

• Arwa Mahdawi’s new book, Strong Female Lead, is available for order

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