Dear Democrats, make Trump own overturning Roe v. Wade

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Seeing Brittany Watts’ smiling face as she addressed a crowd of supporters after an Ohio grand jury refused to indict her was a striking reminder of the compounded pain of pregnancy loss and the targeted criminalization that she has endured since last fall, and there is one person to blame for facilitating her agonizing reality — Donald Trump. 

Only days after being informed by her physician that her fetus’ heartbeat was not viable, Watts suffered a miscarriage at home. When she returned to the hospital for care, a nurse contacted the police. While the charges against Watts were ultimately dropped, her experience represents a traumatizing truth for women and pregnant people across the nation as anti-abortion laws criminalize and block access to basic health care in the wake of the overturn of Roe v. Wade in June 2022. 

Running parallel with Watts’ experience was Kate Cox, a mother in Texas whose fetus was diagnosed with a terminal illness. After receiving this devastating news, Cox petitioned a court for an exemption (which, in and of itself, is a harmful, heinous process) so that she could receive the critical health care that she needed. After being granted permission to have an abortion by a lower court, disgraced Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton petitioned the state supreme court to intervene. Ultimately, Cox had to travel out of state for an abortion as her health was being compromised with each passing day that her exemption was delayed in the courts. 

Of course, there’s also the ongoing legal push to restrict mifepristone, an abortion medication that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration more than 20 years ago. That case will be heard later this year by the same, conservative-stacked Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade. All of this is essentially a trademark of our tragic post-Roe existence that was brought to us by none other than Donald Trump — and he declared as much during a recent town hall

With pride in his voice and a puffed-up chest, Trump told the audience, “For 54 years, they were trying to get Roe v. Wade terminated, and I did it. And I’m proud to have done it.” During his single term as president, Trump stacked the Supreme Court with right-winged, anti-abortion justices, even rushing through a nominee during the final weeks of the 2020 election, all with the explicit goal of overturning Roe. Since Trump did this all by himself, Democrats must make him own it, along with every bit of trauma that comes with a post-Roe reality for women and pregnant people. 

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Owning it goes beyond simply replaying Trump’s words on a loop. That’s not enough. Owning it means telling all of the heartbreaking, visceral stories of the women and people impacted by the loss of protections and rights afforded by Roe. It means forming a mobilizing connection with the Black women and the people who have experienced pregnancy loss, who felt every bit of Brittany Watts’ pain as she was caught in the middle of cruel, dehumanizing laws. And it means amplifying and outlining the impact of every court case to block access to basic health care, like the one that left Kate Cox in a threatening limbo. For every Brittany and for every Kate, there will be more women and pregnant people who experience the same trauma, and people should be reminded via digital and face-to-face campaigns that Trump is to blame for all of it.

This approach would yield political gains as multiple elections have shown that abortion rights are an issue that transcends and mobilizes voters across age, race, and partisan lines. In 2022, voters boosted midterm turnout as they mobilized to protect abortion rights in ballot measures in Montana, Kentucky, Michigan, Kansas, California and Vermont. In 2023, victories in Ohio, Kentucky and Virginia again confirmed the power of abortion rights as voters rejected rhetoric from the right, including language from the Republican governor of Virginia, Glenn Younkin, that abortion bans weren’t actually bans — because that made complete sense.  

That same energy will be present in 2024 as activists work to get abortion on the ballot with initiatives in Florida, Arizona, Nevada and more. And thankfully, Vice President Kamala Harris is amplifying the ongoing fight for our rights with her Reproductive Freedoms Tour that kicks off in Wisconsin on Jan. 22, the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. These activations and conversations are a critical starting point for this election year, and to ensure their success, each time abortion rights and protections are discussed, Trump must be named. Our current reproductive hellscape exists because of him, and the trauma and pain that comes with it has to be laid at Trump’s feet where it belongs. 

Juanita Tolliver is the host of Crooked Media’s “What A Day” Podcast, and an MSNBC political analyst.

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The article is an op-ed highlighting the impact of anti-abortion laws and the overturn of Roe v. Wade, specifically focusing on the experiences of women like Brittany Watts and Kate Cox. It discusses how Donald Trump played a significant role in facilitating the traumatizing reality faced by women and pregnant people by appointing right-wing, anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court and pushing for the overturn of Roe v. Wade. The piece advocates for holding Trump accountable and naming him in discussions about abortion rights and protections. It also emphasizes the importance of amplifying and sharing the stories of women and people impacted by the loss of protections and rights afforded by Roe. The author suggests that the fight for abortion rights can be a mobilizing force in elections, pointing to previous ballot measures and victories in 2022 and 2023. The article calls for continued activism and conversations about abortion rights and protections, while emphasizing that Trump must be named as the reason behind the current reproductive hellscape.

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