The Overturning of Roe V. Wade and When We Stop Governing with Facts

June 24, 2022 | 2:01 pm
protesters hold signs in front of the Supreme Court building in DC, one of which reads "We won't go back"Ian Hutchinson/Unsplash
Rachel Licker
Principal Climate Scientist

Despite being born in the 80’s in New York, as a Jew and the daughter of a German mother born in 1943, I grew up in the shadow of World War II and the destructive power that humanity is capable of. The destructive power that is possible when ideological extremists rule and pursue policies that are singularly in their favor. The destructive power that is possible when facts are pushed aside and propaganda is served to the masses, convincing them that this is all in their own, personal best interest and your neighbor could be your enemy.

Perhaps this might seem like a scant tie to my day job as a climate scientist, but I ultimately regard my day job as someone who fights for a healthy democracy—one that is rooted in facts and evidence. And because of this, and because I was raised with the constant reminder of what humanity is capable of when it departs from these basic tenets, I feel I need to add my voice to the collective wail of sorrow echoing across our nation today.

Today I cannot stop thinking about the quote from Martin Niemöller:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Today, women, as well as many nonbinary individuals and trans men, see themselves as among the first up, and we see the progression of groups that are to follow—our LGBTQIA+ peers, communities of color, our kids, even our planet—no one is off limits.

And as a Mom of a daughter, I cannot and will not stop showing up. We must not. We all matter. We must demand that our policymakers make laws that reflect the facts—today, that fact is SCOTUS has put us in harm’s way, condemning many to adverse physical and emotional health outcomes, including death.

It’s a sad day in the United States of America, but we must not give up.  

About the author

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Rachel Licker is principal climate scientist with the Climate & Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. In her role, she provides strategic thinking and technical and analytical expertise across the organization, analyzes new developments in climate science, and communicates climate science to policymakers, the public, and the media.