Having gone to college at Ohio University and having spent my first professional years working as a radio host in markets around Ohio, my thoughts on May 4th are typically about the anniversary of the 1970 Kent State shootings, when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on students protesting the Vietnam War with live ammunition. It remains a grim anniversary in the Buckeye State.
Four people died and nine were injured in the massacre, including one student who, 20 years later, was one of my professors when I was a student at Ohio University. As a result of the injuries he sustained 52 years ago today in 1970, he never walked again.
Today, however, my thoughts are on the ongoing national discussion on the pending overturn of another legacy of the 1970s. The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court has, for the last 49 years, guaranteed a woman’s reproductive rights no matter where in the U.S. she may live.
For years there have been threats the high court would eventually overturn the 1973 decision as it moved further to the right with each successive GOP administration, but because it had been, in the words of Chief Justice John Roberts, “settled as precedent” for so many decades, a full undoing of Roe v. Wade always seemed unfathomable. Until now.
Let me be clear: I fully support access to women’s health services, reproductive rights, and choice. The national discussion we’re having today isn’t just about abortion and birth control, but about standing up for reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy for everyone. It’s part of the reason I’m a Democrat.
I first registered as a Democrat when I turned 18 during the Reagan era in 1987, in part because of the party’s commitment to a pro-choice position. It was important to me then, and it’s important to me now. That’s part of the reason I’ve been involved in our local Democratic Party for over a decade, which later led to my co-founding of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action in 2014.
Being a Democrat shouldn’t be about electoral convenience. There’s already too much of that. It should be about commitment and what you stand for – something that is in short supply among many of our elected officials.
My party and I stand for a commitment to reproductive freedom. That’s why this week’s news means so much, and why I find the overturn of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision as distressing as you do. Voters need to ask candidates again and again what they will do to push back against the rising tide of right-wing authoritarianism, no matter what position the candidate may be running for. Either you’re a leader, or you’re not.
You can count on me to support women’s health in whatever spaces I’m in – especially if I’m elected to San Diego City Council. We will do our part in San Diego and California to protect access to women’s health, but this must also be the beginning of a concerted national effort to, at last, codify Roe v. Wade and the inalienable right of a woman to decide for herself. Just as the 1965 Voting Rights Act should’ve been fully reinstated by Congress at the first opportunity after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted it in 2013, Congress must act now, while it can, to codify abortion access.
My personal commitment to this matter is part of the reason I was endorsed by Planned Parenthood in my 2018 campaign for District 6, and why I received a 100 percent pro-Planned Parenthood rating from Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest in March of this year.