When I was 15, I learned about my ancestor Sarah Shapiro, who died from an illegal abortion in 1930. She was a first-generation American, whose Ashkenazi family had settled in Connecticut shortly after her birth. She had gray eyes and was uniquely “full of life,” according to family lore. She died in her mid twenties.
On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned decades of judicial precedent to remove a nationwide right to abortion care, which has me thinking of Sarah. As is common in Jewish tradition, her name has been carried by descendants. My grandma, Emily Sarah, was given the name in Massachusetts, from where she and other Sarahs have taken it to states like New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Michigan. Jewish teachings often allow for and support abortion care.
With the Supreme Court’s decision, individual states will assume jurisdiction of the procedure within their borders. Twenty-six are poised to enact bans almost immediately, like in Oklahoma, whose new law — one of the country’s strictest — makes the procedure illegal except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest. Anti-choice legislators are also now targeting medication abortions, which accounted for a majority of U.S. abortions in 2020.
Since its 2013 launch, Bustle has provided award-winning reporting on reproductive justice and will continue to do so. “The most important economic decision a woman makes in her lifetime is if and when to have a child,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told writer Andrea Zelinski in May 2022. “Join us in this fight. Carry petitions, collect signatures for the ballot initiative, knock doors. Help us get the word out.”
— Brianna Kovan, features editor
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