The BDN Opinion section operates independently and does not set newsroom policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.
Jorie Goins is a content editor who works with the Tribune editorial board.
Even though I’m a woman of childbearing age, I’ve been privileged enough to never have had to deal with the prospect of an unwanted pregnancy or the choice of whether to carry a pregnancy to term.
But as news of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade spread across the country, I found myself returning to a movie I watched my freshman year of college.
The film was “The Crime of Father Amaro” (or to use its Spanish-language title, “El Crimen del Padre Amaro”). It stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Ana Claudia Talancon and is based on the Portuguese story “O Crime do Padre Amaro” by José Maria de Eca de Queirós. Bernal plays Padre Amaro, a young priest who begins an illicit sexual relationship with the teenage Amelia, despite his vow of chastity. The relationship leads to a pregnancy, and Amelia ultimately dies after hemorrhaging during an illegal abortion.
I saw the film in my Spanish 121 class, in which watching Spanish-language films was a regular part of the curriculum, and it has stayed with me. For years, I couldn’t get out of my mind the image of Amelia’s ashen face and lifeless body as Amaro frantically drives her to get help. More crucially, I couldn’t stop thinking about whether Amelia or any woman in such a situation would have survived if she’d been able to go to a reputable doctor to terminate her pregnancy in peace and safety.
I’ve never had to weigh the choice of whether to bring a pregnancy to term. It is my hope, especially now, that I don’t have to. And I’m not even sure what I would do if I were faced with an unwanted or unexpected pregnancy. Throughout my life, my views on abortion have gone from being extreme, rigid and conservative, to accepting but judgmental.
But today, as a 27-year-old woman, I have no judgment. Today, I’d want to know that I would have a choice in what to do with my body.
More importantly, I would want my friends and loved ones to have the choice too. Without fear, penalty or relinquished safety, from me or anyone else.
I want young girls who aren’t ready to be mothers to have the choice.
I want anyone who can get pregnant, whether or not they identify as female, to have a choice over what happens with their bodies.
And I want the right that was cemented in the Roe v. Wade ruling to stand as a federal mandate and not be decided by the states, whose varied responses to the COVID-19 pandemic — and the ensuing case numbers — show what can happen when individual governments are left to their own devices in matters of public health. I’m crushed that the Supreme Court has handed that choice back to states instead of keeping it in our hands, where it belongs.
What’s more, the trickle-down effect that this decision represents is even more terrifying than the decision itself. At stake is more than just basic privacy. Overturning Roe v. Wade is, in essence, a slap in the face to the countrywide consensus that ostensibly was at the core of the Civil War — that states should not have the power to dictate people’s fundamental right to manage their bodies, their relationships or their lives, as they wish.
We aren’t just looking at a return to a pre-1973 America. Instead, I’m afraid, we are staring at a frightening collision of a post-pandemic 21st century, with the horrific antebellum days we thought had been left behind more than a century and a half ago.
Today more than ever before, I wish we’d leave the past, in the past.