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The June 24 Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade led to immediate protests across the nation, and many celebrities with large social media followings such as Michelle Obama, Taylor Swift and Hailey Bieber, took to the internet to share their heartbreak and disgust.
This morning, just a few hours after the decision was made public, PEOPLE Every Day podcast host Janine Rubenstein sat down with abortion rights activist Galina Espinoza, who also serves as president and editor-in-chief of Rewire News Group, to discuss what this decision means for the United States.
"Never in the history of the court has a settled law, that has been in place for almost 50 years, been overturned," Espinoza says. "So when I say that this is truly unprecedented, this is truly unprecedented."
"It is one thing for the Supreme Court to deny that there is any such right in the constitution," she continues. "It is another thing to say, like, you've had this right for almost 50 years, but now we're saying that you don't have it anymore."
But the Supreme Court's decision to put abortion laws into the hands of state legislature instead of being nationally protected will affect much more than just reproductive rights, Espinoza warns — it could further polarize our country.
"Culturally, it further deepens the rift that has been growing these past couple of years in different parts of the country," she says. "This essentially sets off legal, political, cultural, chaos."
Espinoza hopes today's news will urge people to really think about whether politicians, the Supreme Court included, reflect the will of the American people.
"Survey after survey shows that a majority of Americans wanted to keep Roe v. Wade," she says. 'They wanted to keep abortion legal. And this has been true ever since Roe v. Wade was settled — a majority of Americans have always, always supported keeping Roe v. Wade. And so to have the court go against what the public supports — I think that culturally, this is a real moment of reckoning for folks in this country where, so clearly, the values of the country do not align with what these six justices who have decided to overturn Roe v. Wade have unleashed upon us today."
Based on Clarence Thomas' concurring opinion calling into question other recent decisions, the court might also have plans to overturn other laws that would put civil rights, bodily autonomy and LGBTQ rights at risk, and Espinoza explains that conservative politicians have been planning for this moment by specifically working to put openly conservative justices, including Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, on the bench.
"For 20 years, the right wing of this country has had a very, very strategic approach to how they were going to get the laws of this country changed — civil rights laws, bodily autonomy laws, LGBTQ laws," she says. "They have been strategically stacking the courts for a moment like this."
"This has never been about abortion," Espinoza says. "This is about control. This is about power."
For people living in the 13 states with trigger laws — meaning they preemptively passed legislature stating they would automatically ban abortions if Roe v. Wade got overturned — as well as those living in states that will most likely ban abortions in the coming weeks, a big issue when seeking an abortion will now be finding a way to travel to a state where abortion is legal.
But the encouraging news, Espinoza says, is that reproductive rights organizations have been mobilizing and preparing for this moment for a long time and are ready to help people in need. One of Espinoza's sources, who schedules abortions at a clinic for people, is already working on arranging transportation for clients to get safe, legal abortions in Illinois.
"And this is just day one of the ruling," she says.