With Roe v. Wade overturned, one cannabis activist asks “How did we get here? And where do we need to go next?”
Editorial Board member and ongoing partner to SWEET JANE, Tokeativity co-founder Lisa Snyder was compelled to explore the intersection of cannabis and abortion following the June 24th U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn the precedent-setting case, Roe v. Wade. Not only did she begin her own research on the history of abortions in the U.S. and beyond, but she also developed a useful application to assist mothers and fathers in their research to access an abortion in states that also have legal cannabis access. This editorial is the opinion of Lisa Snyder published on her behalf by SWEET JANE.
As a cannabis activist and the co-founder of Tokeativity, a global organization for cannabis feminists, I was in shock when we entered into a time our mothers never thought we’d see: post-Roe America.
Now more than ever, our votes matter.
Fifty years of protection from other people telling us what we can and can’t do with our own wombs and bodies—gone in a day. Except it wasn’t gone in a day. In fact, our rights have been chipped away at for decades; we just became comfortable with our freedoms and moved onto other things.
Alas, on June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade with the Dobbs v. Jackson Decision, abandoning decades of federal protection for women and paving the way for states to ban abortion.
I have felt terrified for women in our country, those I know and those I don’t know. After the decision, I became obsessed with understanding how we could go from the #MeToo movement to secretly sending women to get abortions across state lines as if we’re back in the 1950s.
How did we get here? And where do we need to go next? In my opinion, the first thing we need to do when we don’t know something, is to focus our energy on learning and education around the issue to be able to face it head on.
In my own desire for cannabis education, normalization, and supporting women who want to take care of their own bodies, I felt called to connect the dots between legal abortion access and legal cannabis access. Shortly after Roe v. Wade was turned over, I created a “Legal Cannabis & Abortion” web app. If you want to know where in the country you can currently access both, this app will help you figure it out.
How did we get abortion laws?
I wanted to understand how we got to abortion laws in the first place, and went on a deep dive into the herstory of abortion. One of the not so shocking things I learned is that just like women have been using cannabis for childbirth for thousands of years, women have been releasing pregnancies way before any laws around it.
Different methods, including various plant medicines, have been used by women for centuries. The first recorded evidence of induced abortion was mentioned in the Egyptian Ebers Papyrus (Egyptian compilation of medical texts) from 1550 BCE. Fast forward to the 19th century, medical advances shifted abortions to be more surgical. As those advances occurred, more control over when and how abortions were done and what was legal to do came into play.
What was the Roe v. Wade case actually about?
According to the historic events of Roe v. Wade he case was brought in 1969 by Norma McCorvey—known as “Jane Roe”—who was pregnant with her her third child. Despite wanting an abortion, McCorvey lived in Texas, where abortion was illegal except when necessary to save the mother’s life. Her attorneysfiled a lawsuit on her behalf in U.S. federal court against her local district attorney, alleging that Texas’ abortion laws were unconstitutional. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled in her favor and declared the relevant Texas abortion statutes unconstitutional. The parties appealed this ruling to the Supreme Court.
On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court issued a 7–2 decision holding that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides a fundamental “right to privacy,” which protects a pregnant woman’s right to an abortion. Included in the decision:
- The Court held that the right to abortion is not absolute and must be balanced against the government’s interests in protecting women’s health and prenatal life.
- The Court resolved these competing interests by announcing a pregnancy trimester timetable to govern all abortion regulations in the U.S.
- During the first trimester, governments could not regulate abortion at all, except to require that abortions be performed by a licensed physician.
- During the second trimester, governments could regulate the abortion procedure but only for the purpose of protecting maternal health and not for protecting fetal life.
- After viability, which includes the third trimester of pregnancy and the last few weeks of the second trimester, abortions could be regulated and even prohibited, but only if the laws provided exceptions for abortions necessary to save the “life” or “health” of the mother.
- The Court also classified the right to abortion as “fundamental,” which required courts to evaluate challenged abortion laws under the “strict scrutiny” standard, the most stringent level of judicial review in the United States.”
[The above is cited to Roe V. Wade Wikipedia]
Several times since Roe v. Wade, cases have come forth attempting the change the precedent.
In 1992 Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey 505 US 833 was a challenge to a set of onerous restrictions on abortion enacted in Pennsylvania.
As in 1989, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) fought to prevent the Supreme Court from overruling the core holdings of Roe v. Wade. In Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, the Court preserved constitutional protection for the right to choose. But it adopted a new and weaker test for evaluating restrictive abortion laws. Under the “undue burden test,” state regulations can survive constitutional review so long as they do not place a “substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.”
How did it all come undone?
As I was putting the puzzle together and scrolling through Twitter in a post-Roe daze, I stumbled upon this Tweet from Cher.
It lead me to this Time Magazine article, where I learned that “Small, locally operated pregnancy centers first cropped up in the 1960s, as mostly Catholic groups looked to prevent abortion by offering mothers counseling and social-service referrals. After the Supreme Court established a constitutional right to abortion in 1973, larger groups, including evangelical activists, joined the so-called ‘pregnancy help movement,’ according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion think tank associated with Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America.
As the movement grew larger, advocates began organizing independent pregnancy centers into networks, featuring annual conferences, training sessions, and digital and legislative strategies. What had once been mom-and-pop storefronts became the scaffolding of the national anti-abortion movement.”
At this point I needed to understand why Christians think abortion is murder.
The answer, as it seems, is embedded in the belief that “life” (whatever life is – and who gets to define what life is?) begins (for them) at conception. Not to be crude, but what I interpret this to mean is that as soon as a man has an orgasm, a woman becomes immediately legally liable for what happens inside her own uterus, regardless of rape, incest, or the secondary person involved.
This took me back to the pussy grabbing rhetoric that came to light during the 2016 presidential election. Donald Trump, the 45th president, (who did not win the popular vote of the people but rather the electoral college) stacked the courts with specifically ultra-conservative judges who, in my opinion, interpret the law through a religious conservative lens instead of interpreting laws through the constitution.
“The conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court has chipped away at the wall separating church and state in a series of new rulings, eroding American legal traditions intended to prevent government officials from promoting any particular faith,” a Reuters article on church and state, published on June 28, 2022.
Why does it seem that laws in this country come directly from and are interpreted by a man’s point of view? The United States of America, a great democratic experiment, is still very young. The documents that were written in the late 1700s by a handful of rich white men (many of whom were slave owners) still dictate how we, the advanced people of the future, are living today. And to this day, almost all laws are written by white men and are designed to protect men and people in power.
Our country still thinks and sees the world through the patriarchy’s eyes.
American author, feminist, and social activist Bell Hooks famously quoted, “In our nation masses of people are concerned about violence but resolutely refuse to link that violence to patriarchal thinking or male domination. Feminist thinking offers a solution. And it is up to us to make that solution available to everyone.”
This moment in our lifetime is THE pivot point that is here to change this perspective on a massive scale. We need solution-oriented feminist thinking and related action.
We need to take this momentum, from “Summer of Rage” to “The Fall of Reckoning,” to make moves in as many areas as we can. We do not need to reinvent the wheel, as many wheels have already been invented, we just need to tap in.
1) Vote this November! Work to elect leaders in your county, city, state, and nation who align with your values and make sure to fight for your rights and the ballot measures that will help protect you, your daughters, nieces, cousins, friends, and colleagues in years to come. Make sure to read the ballot measures carefully to ensure they make sense to you.
Contact your state and local representatives and ask them what they are doing on behalf of rights for women. Do not vote for people who do not align with your values. EVERY SINGLE VOTE COUNTS. Some elections have been known to come down to a couple dozen people. Help your friends and family know who to vote for, you can find your House Representatives here. Find your Senate Representatives here.
2) Donate to trusted organizations that can use your help. It’s best, if you can afford to, to set up a monthly donation—they need your help. I am a big fan of the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP), which provides funds directly to pre-screened, pre-qualified health clinics and doctors across the nation on behalf of women in need of services or emergency contraceptives. Check out their website and Instagram.
3) Check out the “Legal Cannabis & Abortion” web app. This app makes it easier for our community to quickly figure out what is legal and where when it comes to cannabis and abortion. It uses current legal cannabis locations in the U.S. and compares them with AbortionLocator.org‘s current legal status per state. Look under “About” in the app to see when it was last updated.
4) Join ProChoiceAmerica.org. The organization fights for reproductive freedom for every body. Each day, they organize and mobilize to protect that freedom by fighting for access to abortion care, birth control, paid parental leave, and protections from pregnancy discrimination. Text NARAL to 59791 to join their SMS texting list.
5) Join networks. Join the Auntie Network, a sub-Reddit dedicated to providing information and resources to those in need of abortion services, or become a member of the Tokeativity and connect with other cannabis consumers in the network.
6) Pay attention to what is next. Do not fall asleep at the wheel or get comfortable with “what is.” This is how outdated and out of touch laws remain, because people accept them as they are and get complacent.
We will not rest until we get our rights back for good using advocacy, energy, and the law.
Get out there and vote!
With you in sisterhood,
Co-Founder of Tokeativity
The Global Feminist Community for Active Cannabis Culture
Photograph by Mirah Curzer via Unsplash
Lisa Snyder is the Co-Founder & Chief Innovation officer of Tokeativity, The Global Feminist Community for Active Cannabis Culture. She is a feminist and plant medicine advocate with over 25 years of digital strategy experience. She passionately supports the self-healing revolution through consumption and plant medicine advocacy. She has been recognized for her work in Forbes, Rolling Stone, Condé Nast Traveler, Yahoo! Finance, The Guardian, MJ Lifestyle, Travel Portland, and Dope Magazine, among others.
Snyder is a board member of Sweet Jane Magazine and The Oregon Cannabis Association. She is passionate about educating small business owners and plant medicine advocates on all things digital, crypto, NFT, and the web 3.0 movement. When she’s not on the computer, she’s spending time with her wife, Cat, and her dog, Ziggy, in Portland, Oregon.