What The F*** Do We Do Now?

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Shayna Roth: This podcast contains adult language.

Speaker 2: Let’s take that step.

Shayna Roth: Welcome to the Waves Slate’s podcast about gender feminism and fuck. They really did it. I’m Shayna Roth, the producer of The Waves. This is an emergency episode because the U.S. Supreme Court just released its opinion in the Dobbs vs Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. And as expected, the Conservative Court decided that there is not a federal constitutional right to an abortion. They just took all that precedent from Roe and its progeny and just lit it on fire.

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Shayna Roth: There’s a lot of great content on the Slate site right now about the decision. Reminder to sign up for a slate. Plus, if you’re not already a member and get no paywall and all kinds of bonus podcast content. There’s Amicus and what next? Which are also dropping emergency episodes. Also, don’t miss Slow Burn Roe versus Wade. All four episodes are out right now. So if you want the nuts and bolts, they have you covered. We are going to spend this episode just trying to get through it all. We are here to let you scream into the universe together. I’m here with Slate senior writer Cristina Cauterucci. Who has, like me, been having some feelings about all of this. Christina, how are you doing?

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Speaker 3: I’m happy to be here talking to you about this right now. It feels good to process this with somebody. I’m actually feeling a little nauseous right now. I’m in New York. We just had a late live event last night about Roe. And this morning when the decision came down and I was checking out of my hotel, I was like, I’m going to get a breakfast sandwich. Actually, it’s just a sandwich. I just eat weird things for breakfast from a place that I know I really love in my friend’s neighborhood in Prospect Heights, it’s called R&D Foods, and they have a sandwich with pickled beets and mashed sardines and deviled eggs, mayonnaise. And I was like, I need comfort food right now. But I just how’s that sandwich? And that plus the news is making me feel like I’m in a bath.

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Speaker 3: More specifically about the decision on Roe, I am feeling incredibly angry and afraid for people and sad. I mean, I feel like I processed most of this when the Alito draft leaked, like that moment when that push alert came through that night that, you know, that opinion had leaked and what it said, I feel like that was a super traumatic moment that will be etched in my mind forever. But, you know, we’ve we’ve sort of known this was coming since Trump was elected and maybe even before when Merrick Garland was and when the Senate didn’t allow Merrick Garland’s confirmation hearings to happen. So anyway, I feel like I’ve I’ve been processing this news in moments for the past, I don’t know, six years. And yet it still feels uniquely terrible today.

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Shayna Roth: Personally, I found out about the decision when I got a text from one of my best friends with a screenshot with a bunch of news headlines and her just saying, What the fuck do we do now?

Speaker 3: And you were like, Oh, I guess it happened.

Shayna Roth: Yeah, exactly. I was like, okay, that’s going to be my day. And I think it really sums it up. What the fuck do we do now? So we’re going to take a quick break here. And when we come back, Christina and I are going to talk about how to wrap our minds around this massive change, what’s useful and maybe not so useful to do right now, and maybe hopefully find some light in the darkness. There’s a hard maybe on that last one. So stay with us.

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Shayna Roth: Welcome back to the Waves Emergency Women’s Rights Edition. I woke up tired. I feel like I have been tired for months. But my daughter is getting her first COVID vaccine today. Oh, my God. And I thought, wow. Today is the day we’ve been waiting for for years. I was so excited. And then I saw the court’s decision.

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Speaker 3: Yeah. It was the day we’ve been waiting for. For years, in an extremely disturbing way.

Shayna Roth: And let me say upfront, I know that this decision does not impact me directly, not in the way that it is going to impact the hardest hit women. I need medical intervention to get pregnant. And yes, there are all kinds of fears swirling through my mind about what this means for the future when we try to have more kids and need that medical intervention. And dear God. The issue of a medically necessary abortion is now so dangerous and fraught, not to mention the fact that Justice Clarence Thomas is already saying that, hey, you know what? Maybe the court should reconsider other past rulings like same sex relationships and gay marriage. We are living in. Just the upside down. But for right now, I am not the primary concern here.

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Shayna Roth: And then I look at my daughter and she’s she’s asking me to pretend to be a dog. And she has no idea about the seismic shift that just happened to her future. And it’s a complete brain scramble. And let’s be clear, this isn’t just about abortion. This is about how we view women’s rights and bodily autonomy. And this is about the first domino falling for so many.

Shayna Roth: So, Cristina, how are you wrapping your mind around all of this?

Speaker 3: I mean, first of all, I would just push back on the idea that it doesn’t affect you or that that you’re somehow, like, less important in this moment. Obviously, every court decision and every piece of legislation affects every group of people differently. But as you sort of alluded to, you know, this isn’t just about people who experience unexpected pregnancies. It’s about reproductive health care. A person who works at an abortion clinic in Texas that I visited told me, when you criminalize one pregnancy outcome, you can’t do that without affecting all the other ones.

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Speaker 3: So that includes medical care for a miscarriage, which in places like Texas that have already banned abortion through, you know, most of pregnancy, doctors are already delaying necessary medical care for patients undergoing miscarriages to the point where they have to wait for the patient to get an infection before they’re able to complete the miscarriage because they’re afraid of getting sued. It also will affect certain kinds of contraception.

Speaker 3: The bottom line here is that we know some things will happen, in part because we’ve seen what happens in other countries that have banned abortion. We know what happened before Roe and we’ve had a preview because of the bands in Texas and Oklahoma. We know that in Ireland, for instance, one of the events that precipitated the repeal of their abortion ban was the death of a woman who had a miscarriage in progress. The doctors refused to complete it and she ended up contracting sepsis. She had a blood infection that progressed such that she fell into a coma and died. So we know that all kinds of reproductive medical care will be impacted by this decision.

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Speaker 3: But there are some things we don’t know because this has never happened in the U.S. before. We’ve never been in a situation where some states allow abortion and in fact, now are, you know, devoting line items in their budgets to fund abortions for people coming in from out of state. So places like California and Oregon are doing that. There is extra funding in Maryland in the works to train more abortion providers in expectation of patients flooding into Maryland for abortion care. There’s also the abortion pill, which maybe we’ll talk about later, which just didn’t exist in the years before Roe. In fact, regulations that made medication abortion kind of a pain to obtain even in blue states are now coming down. You know, and that’s just on the reproductive rights side of things.

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Speaker 3: I can’t even really begin to think about what this means for all manner of other rights, the direction of our country, the solidity of our country and our democracy, because it just feels like too much to try to speculate about right now. So I’m trying to just wrap my head around this one part of it for now and think about all that other stuff later.

Shayna Roth: Your brain can only handle so much, and I feel like we have been very mean to our brains lately with all of this stuff that we’re trying to do. And as is characteristic, after a huge political blow, social media has exploded and there’s lots of calls for people to fight and do. Something is trending on Twitter, which is really just people yelling at politicians and other people to do something. So what is useful right now and do you think the momentum from anger today will actually be useful and take us somewhere?

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Speaker 3: I have to hope that it will. Honestly, I’m skeptical of any possibility for change in the near term just because the Democrats continue to disappoint in their inadequate and short sighted response to this. You know, Nancy Pelosi read a poem today.

Shayna Roth: Well, thank God.

Speaker 3: And, you know, the the Supreme Court will be in place for who knows how long they clearly don’t feel bound by the law. Lower courts will, you know, that are stacked with Trump appointees will be all too excited to allow all manner of otherwise, you know, previously illegal state laws to go into place. But I have to be hopeful about the kinds of coalitions and new strategies and new connections and and deeper grassroots infrastructure can be built in this moment.

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Speaker 3: I think it has illuminated some massive failures on the part of the Democratic Party and its lack of investment in state and local politics in the reproductive rights movement that has really focused on big national organizations and political wins over access to abortion for people who weren’t able to access it, even in the, you know, heyday of Roe v Wade. And I’m really hoping this can be a learning opportunity.

Speaker 3: There are also some things that, at least for now, money can help fix in addition to blue states with budget surpluses, you know, shout out to California doing the work to set up infrastructure to help people coming in from out of state. There are a lot of local organizations that are already are plugged into their own communities and know what people need are working to help people get access to abortion, even in Texas and Oklahoma, that, you know, people already haven’t been been able to access abortion for months now.

Speaker 3: I know there’s like networks of clergy providers that have been flying people out of Texas to get abortions. There’s like a couple of things in the works that for now are look relatively promising in terms of mitigating some of the damage. And, you know, the the big thing that that is necessary, there is like volunteers and money. So, yeah, that’s that’s one of those things that I think we’ll just have to wait and see how states respond to that, too.

Shayna Roth: I don’t think I’ve ever been more disappointed in Democrats in the Democratic Party than I was today. It feels like they have seen the forecast for months, if not years, and then today they’re like, Oh, no, it’s raining. Who could who could have seen that? I just I don’t understand. There’s no real plan there. And so I think you’re absolutely right. That really it’s it’s unfortunately for them up to the grassroots to help women get the care that they need right now.

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Speaker 3: I think this is a profound crisis moment for this country that it feels like Democrats aren’t prepared to meet, in part because some people in the Democratic Party feel really ambivalent about abortion. And the the Dems have been very explicit about being a big tent in the past. Nancy Pelosi has really advocated for welcoming anti-choice Democrats into the fold. And there are people who, you know, kind of say, well, I don’t believe in abortion, but it’s fine for some people to access it in certain circumstances if they feel like it. That was sort of Joe Manchin response to this moment.

Speaker 3: But one thing that’s going to become just essentially important in upcoming elections is the down ballot races. So I was just talking to somebody yesterday, a reproductive justice advocate who was talking about how sheriffs elections and D.A. is and prosecutor elections will become even more important because those are the people who are going to determine whether and how people are criminalized for accessing abortion.

Speaker 3: Coroners are elected in more than a thousand counties in the U.S. and those are the people who will be called in to assess fetal remains after a miscarriage or a suspected abortion. So those races should be a central focus for people who are advocating for abortion rights or abortion justice, because when the laws don’t protect us, it’s individual. People have a lot of discretion as to how the the bands are interpreted and applied.

Shayna Roth: Cristina, you’ve written a bunch about medication abortions. What is the top line there? What what do people need to know about that? And how can that maybe be helpful right now?

Speaker 3: So it’s a two drug regimen. It’s multiple gigantic studies. These have shown it’s safe and effective to manage on your own, even without a doctor’s physical input until at least ten or 11 weeks of pregnancy. Many people say it could be used even later than that. It essentially induces a miscarriage at home.

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Speaker 3: There are places to get both of these drugs online, both through local telemedicine and blue states and from overseas doctors and pharmacies, aid, access and Plan C provide information about that. You never even have to go into an office. There are some states, as you can imagine. Which ones? The red ones mostly are in the process of or already do ban the delivery of abortion pills by mail. But anecdotally and historically, it’s really hard to track and trace and prosecute medications sent by mail. This is one of the major resources that exists now that did not exist in the pre Roe era.

Speaker 3: And in fact, medication abortion has become even easier to obtain in recent years. It was only within the past year or two that the FDA allowed the delivery of telemedicine and abortion pill delivery by mail. You can imagine how it might be used now to get medication in blue states and transport it to people in red states who need them. I really hope that grassroots networks use that sort of deregulation to their benefit, even just for people to have, just in case, because this is really safe and effective early in pregnancy.

Speaker 3: Again, a lot of people will always want and need in clinic abortions, both early in pregnancy and after the pill stops being so effective later in pregnancy. So this is just one of the many. Things that we believe could help people access abortion. But it sort of remains to be seen how effective it will be. You know, how easy it will be to get pills to people. How voracious prosecutors and red states will be in terms of the people who send medication to people, the people who ingest the medication. But, you know, it’s undoubtedly one of the things that will set this moment apart from what came before Roe.

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Shayna Roth: We’re going to take one more break here, but when we come back. Something to hopefully help you get through the storm.

Shayna Roth: Welcome back, Cristina. I have a kind of hard question for you. How are you grieving? What are you doing or planning to do in this time to take care of yourself and to get through all of this?

Speaker 3: One of the sort of overwhelming feelings that I’m having right now and that I’ve had in previous moments that have felt like this. Trump’s election are big death. Stuff like that is loneliness and feeling like. I live in a place that’s hostile to me and my people. And how can so many people be so cruel and indifferent to people’s lives and women’s lives? And so what helps me and what I’m intending to do today and this weekend is be with people who share my values and.

Speaker 3: It’s impossible to have a productive conversation in this moment because it can really easily just be a spiral of pain. Sometimes that’s fine. Sometimes it just feels like it makes things feel worse. And I’m not sure that, you know, beyond maybe going to a demonstration, like, I don’t feel like there’s really a way to spring into action in this moment. There’s like spending money and going to a protest. I’m like, What? But even just being around people and reminding myself that actually there are a lot of people out there who believe in women’s dignity, believe in people’s rights to control their own futures.

Speaker 3: Want our future to look different than it does right now is is helpful to me. It reminds me why it’s worth it to keep caring about this stuff and makes me feel a little bit less nihilistic about my future and the future of people I love. What about you?

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Shayna Roth: So I find what you’re saying about being around people so helpful to me because I’m already going through a bit of a hard patch, just like with life, and my instinct is usually just to withdraw to it, to retreat, to try and figure it out on my own. And I think that COVID has exacerbated that. Like I mention, my daughter’s just now getting vaccinated. So we have been incredibly careful for like two and a half years. I don’t see a lot of people. I don’t go a lot of places. And the instinct to retreat has been so much easier than anything else lately. But. This is a time where if it feels good to protest or protest. But honestly, I think you’re right. We need to be around people that are feeling what we’re feeling. And I think that’s kind of one of the reasons why we wanted to do this episode is to just help people who maybe don’t have somebody with them immediately, that you’re not alone in what’s going on.

Shayna Roth: It’s okay. And is very, very valid to be scared right now, to be sad, to be mad, to just be so afraid for what’s going on in our country right now. It’s it’s it’s frightening. And I think the best thing that I can do is hug my kid like she gives a really good hugs. She’s if you can if you can, you know, get her to sit still long enough. She gives really good hugs, you know, and she’s my little person and, you know, hug my husband and maybe get something to eat that we really enjoy and try and have some level of. Comforting of each other.

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Speaker 3: You know, you mentioned people who might not have a community around them right now. And I’m especially thinking about those people who, you know, maybe live in communities or young people who live in families who don’t share their values, who are celebrating in this moment. I imagine that feels incredibly painful and I am just glad that the Internet exists because I even feel like reading pieces on Slate.com, no pieces written by people who I admire and trust.

Speaker 3: This is actually one of those moments where I sometimes being on Twitter doesn’t feel like a total waste of time because I am reading smart and helpful analysis from people whose views I respect that can even make me feel like I’m not alone in this moment and that there’s not that this should even matter because people’s rights shouldn’t be subject to majority opinion, but that a majority of people did not want this to happen, that we’re being led by minority rule and there’s a possibility for a better world. And there are a lot of people out there who are working for it and we can be part of that.

Shayna Roth: Yeah, absolutely. And as somebody who lives in a very conservative area, I have felt that I’ve had to just like text friends about it because I’m like, well, if I go and talk to anybody who lives nearby, you know, if I’m like seeing my neighbors, how’s your day going? I just got to, like, pretend. Oh, you know, it’s fine. It’s a totally normal day. I’m not. I’m not screaming inside. Everything’s okay. It’s hard when you are in an area where you’re like, I don’t think these people would take kindly to my views and I definitely wouldn’t take kindly to theirs. And just feeling very cut off from the world.

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Shayna Roth: Before we head out on this episode that we all hoped we would never have to record. Let’s have some recommendations. Christina, what is is going to make you happier this week?

Speaker 3: You know what? It’s fucking pride month. And in our mom. Yes. Dare to release this decision. Not going to let it dim my joy this weekend. We already had pride in D.C. a couple of weekends ago. I’m hopefully going to make it to at least one New York Pride event before I leave. And I want to recommend a film that we watched for an outward episode that I think is so divorced from the news of this day and is just completely about queer joy. It’s called Fire Island. It’s on Hulu. It’s a very sweet and funny rom com that also, if you’re queer, it doesn’t feel like it’s made for like a straight audience. That’s where it’s sort of like weirdly explaining everything you already know.

Speaker 3: But also, if you’re not queer, I think it will be just as enjoyable and like a fun glimpse into a gay male community on Fire Island, which also, like, there was plenty new to me cause I’m not part of that community. It’s got Bowen Yang and Joel Kim booster two incredible stars and I my heart was warmed by watching that earlier this month and I might finish out my pride month by watching it again.

Shayna Roth: Okay. I’m going to have to watch that. It’s been on my list. It’s a it’s a riff on Pride and Prejudice, which I it.

Speaker 3: Is.

Shayna Roth: Excited about, which.

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Speaker 3: Here’s a secret. I’ve never read that. So I actually didn’t realize it was a riff on that until I was Googling around preparing for the episode. And I was like, Oh yeah, totally. What a great take on Jane Austen’s novel. Yeah, they did such a good job.

Speaker 3: What do you recommend?

Shayna Roth: So I have to one. As I’ve said before, my kids getting vaccinated today and I recommend getting your under-five kiddos and all kiddos vaccinated. I haven’t officially done it yet, but I am so excited to do that. Get them vaccinated all of their vaccines, but especially right now, the COVID 19 vaccine.

Speaker 3: Does she know that she’s getting her shot today?

Shayna Roth: She does. We are always very upfront with her about shots. She is a little over two years old. And so we’re always very upfront about shots. It’s going to hurt, but then it’s going to be good. We’re going to get ice cream. We’re going to go out to eat. We’re going to whatever.

Speaker 3: Nice and probably a cute Band-Aid, I bet.

Shayna Roth: Definitely a cute Band-Aid. There may or may not be a jelly cat in her future, which is my other recommendation. There is a stuffed animal brand called Jelly Cats. It’s a very specific brand of stuffed animal. They are so soft and they are adorable. There is a rambler line of jelly cats and I have one. He’s a little hedgehog and he’s wearing like a tweed coat and a scarf. But they have, you know, they have dragons, they have plants. I mean, like anything that you can imagine in stuffed animal form, they have them. Jelly cats are by far our favorite stuffed animal. And, you know, they’re not just for kids. Some of these are so adorable. You will want to have them sit on your desk and help you work during the day or have a cuddle at night. They are fantastic. I highly recommend getting yourself a jelly cat.

Speaker 2: That’s it.

Shayna Roth: That’s our show today. The Waves is produced by myself, Shayna Roth. Shannon Paulus is our editorial director and Alicia montgomery is vice president of podcasting for Slate. The waves will be back next week. Different host, different topic, same time and place to stay sane, everybody.