On Sunday, news broke that pro-choice protesters were marching to the family homes of Supreme Court justices Brett Kavanaugh and John Roberts in Maryland in protest of the recently leaked decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Almost instantly, opprobrium boiled over; not at the conservative justices for their proposal to effectively criminalize abortion in most of the U.S., but at the protesters for daring to show up at said justices’ houses to make their displeasure known.
It’s hard not to see a double standard here. I’m not condoning trespassing or any other illegal activity, but are we really criticizing pro-choice activists for having the audacity to show up at the homes of Supreme Court justices, when those same Supreme Court justices seem to feel perfectly comfortable making their presence known in our bedrooms, our marriages, and our doctor’s offices? What constitutes Kavanaugh’s right to privacy when he has all but deemed my right to a safe, easily accessible, and yes, private medical procedure illegal?
Protesting at a public figure’s family home isn’t without its collateral damage, and while I do feel bad for Kavanaugh’s children (we don’t choose our parents, after all), I also feel bad for Rosie Jimenez’s daughter, who was left without a mother when Jimenez died from an unsafe abortion in 1977, after the Hyde Amendment cut off Medicaid funding for safe medically-supervised abortions. I feel bad for the children of the woman known only as ‘Manuela’, who have to live with the knowledge that their mother was handcuffed to a hospital bed in El Salvador after a miscarriage. I feel bad for all the people who know and love Lizelle Herrera, arrested just last month in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley for “causing the death of an individual by self-induced abortion.” When you stack a peaceful protest in a Maryland suburb against all that human suffering, the contrast feels stark.
If you’re concerned about the effect that these protests would have on Kavanaugh’s neighbors, allow me to put your mind at ease. They’re the ones who organized the protest, driving home the point that the right to abortion isn’t theoretical or being questioned in some faraway place; abortion rights intimately affect the lives of your neighbors, your friends, your coworkers, and the people you build your life with. To take them away is to tell those very same people that your interpretation of the law matters more than their lived experience.