Written by Natalie Dreyer, 11th Grade, NY, USA
As the holidays grow nearer, and families gather, it is almost certain that the hot button issues you see in news feeds and shared across social media, will be discussed at your own dinner table. The imminent clash between the conspiracy theory touting brother-in-law and the Bernie Sanders supporting son is the reason most logical people want to curb the topic of politics before it interrupts family peace. Yet time and time again, we continue to have these conversations, and it is imperative that we do so. Dialogue about controversial topics shapes our opinions and makes us more educated voters.
Although many major political issues are openly contested between friends and family, abortion remains tabboo. People on both sides of the aisle are hesitant to raise their voice about their stance on abortion, and students across America are not educated on its impacts. Instead of fostering productive conversation, we have shut down and become nearly complacent to it.
Perhaps people’s unwillingness to have the difficult conversations about abortion stems from the stigma and shame decades of sexism has inflicted. Perhaps it’s because most people don’t want to stir the pot. Regardless of the reason, this silence is a disservice to our daughters because women’s reproductive rights have been directly threatened.
Last week, the Supreme Court heard the opening arguments of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a highly anticipated and controversial case. The divided Supreme Court is poised to overturn the landmark case, Roe v Wade, which legalized abortion in 1973. In the event Roe is overturned, twenty one states will ban or severely limit abortions.
Beyond the impact on the nearly 700,000 women per year that receive abortions, overturning Roe v Wade would demonstrate the frailty of the American legal system and democracy. Justices Amy Coney Barret and Brett Kavanaugh, appointed by former President Donald Trump, tip the delicate balance in the Supreme Court in favor of the conservatives. One could speculate that had Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a staunch advocate for a woman’s right to choose, been alive, and had Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee back in 2016, been appointed, the fate of Roe v Wade would not be in jeopardy.
American democracy is floundering, but it is not hopeless. The cliche phrase, “you catch more bees with honey” is applicable once again. You are more likely to reach people by educating them and by making them comfortable with discussing the controversial issues with respect and dignity, on either side of the aisle. Gen Z has redefined what it means to be politically active, shifting the conversation from idealism to reality. This reality can only be achieved from the ground up; challenge yourself to have a difficult conversation with friends or family about abortion.