The Arlington Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is gravely concerned by the recent US Supreme Court ruling that marks a dangerous step backward in American human rights and women’s equity in our society. In the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization (2022), the Supreme Court overturned prior decisions, which had established that the right to abortion was part of a fundamental right to privacy and crucial to ensuring that women have an equal place in society. In doing this, the Supreme Court opened the door for states and the federal government to ban or limit reproductive rights. At least 10 states have abortion bans in place, and more are coming or being contested. Many Congressional candidates are running on a pledge to vote for a national ban on abortion.
Adding to our deep concern, Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion, echoing arguments made by him and others before, suggests that any right not explicitly set forth in the Constitution should not be protected. This is a threat to a wide array of human rights including gay rights, same sex marriage, inter-racial marriage, birth control, among others. This approach - that the only valid rights are those explicitly written into the Constitution, largely by 18th century white men - is a stunning limitation on American human rights.
The AHRC is proud of the Massachusetts State Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling in 1981 that abortion rights are protected under the state constitution, and our recent laws addressing the Supreme Court’s decision by protecting people in our state who help people from other states receive abortion services, allowing people who have been sued in other states to file suit in Massachusetts to recover damages, and barring the Massachusetts state government from cooperating with any out-of-state investigations into legal services performed in Massachusetts.
However, human rights are not piecemeal and women’s lives cannot be valued more or less depending on where they happen to reside. We cannot return to a time of backstreet abortions, furtive efforts to obtain birth control, and being forced to hide one’s sexual orientation. The Dobbs decision and the line of argument forwarded by Justice Thomas represent a stunning break with American democratic values and respect for fundamental human rights, and we must take every step possible to refute this thinking. Therefore, we strongly urge the residents of Arlington to take the following actions:
Learn more about recent developments and the changing status in other states (the following resources may help):
Help organizations working to support women in other states who are seeking reproductive health care:
Planned Parenthood The institution also provides a number of other services including cancer and COVID-19 screenings, contraception access, health, natal support, sexual dysfunction support, psychological services, STD screenings and treatment, sexual assault support, and counseling with regards to relationships, gender identity, and sexual orientation. You can donate to Planned Parenthood at large, or you can donate directly to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
NARAL This organization fights not only for abortion rights but also for access to birth control and paid family leave, along with fighting pregnancy discrimination for female professionals. Consider donating to them.
Center for Reproductive Rights The Center for Reproductive Rights works closely with the United Nations across five countries to protect women's bodies. Much of their work is also focused in the United States, including their work on policy change. You can donate to their efforts.
Guttmacher Institute The Guttmacher Institute is based upon three pillars to support abortion access in the US: (1) high-quality research, (2) evidence-based advocacy, and (3) strategic communications. A great deal of their work involves researching and providing education about reproductive health and the importance of widespread access to contraception and safe abortions. You can donate to them.
The National Network of Abortion Funds The National Network of Abortion Funds works with over 80 organizations across the United States to provide abortion access and reproductive resources in spite of any financial and logistical obstacles. You can donate to their cause.
Abortion Care Network The Abortion Care Network works to keep clinics open and helps them mobilize on social media and within their communities so that they can continue providing much-needed care and education to those in need of contraception and/or abortions. You can donate to these efforts.
Advocates for Youth Advocates for Youth advocates for access to safe contraceptives, racial justice, honest sexual education, LGBTQ+ rights, support for sexual assault survivor, abortion access, and much more, particularly as it pertains to adolescents and young adults. You can donate to them.
Consider how to support candidates for Congress who will be considering this fundamental human rights question:
Pro-Choice Washington is committed to supporting elections at every level of government, recognizing the power that innovative lawmakers have to change the local and national conversation and to protect and promote reproductive freedom.
Pro-Choice Endorsements from NARAL (see above)
Arlington values equity, diversity, and inclusion. We are committed to building a community where everyone is heard, respected, and protected.
By Mail: 27 Maple Street
Arlington, MA 02476