‘We can’t bring spoons to a knife fight anymore’: How world-famous authors want to fight for Roe v Wade
Not many writers come to a literary festival to talk about why they plan on never writing again, but bestselling crime writer Don Winslow is doing just that. On a Saturday afternoon in Santa Fe, the author of more than 20 books — including The limit, savages and his latest city on fire — Calmly explains to an audience why he decided to put down his pen.
“The times we are living in are extremely dangerous,” he says, “and we cannot choose the times in which we live. I’m not a political person… but now I think it’s time to direct my resources elsewhere. When he says “elsewhere,” Winslow means activism. In his opinion, “we can’t bring spoons to a stabbing anymore” when far-right politicians and judges work to take away Americans’ rights.
Winslow is not afraid to address the specific issue that currently looms over all cultural discourse: abortion. Three weeks before the start of the literary festival, a leaked Supreme Court memo showed that judges plan to overturn the landmark Roe v Wade abortion law. Two weeks later, another leaked memo — this time from the Department of Homeland Security and published by Axios — said the US government was preparing for a surge in politically motivated violence following the 1973 ruling establishing constitutional protections for women who seek an abortion strive. has tipped over. The fact that preparations are being made for the end of abortion rights in the USA is alarming for many. And already state governors, emboldened by promises of a post-Roe future, are enacting laws that would have been unthinkable even 10 years ago: Most notably, on May 20, the Oklahoma legislature passed the toughest law in US history , which bans all abortions in cases of rape, incest or saving the life of the mother. That makes Oklahoma “the first state in the country to ban abortion entirely — even as long as Roe is still in existence,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement when the news broke.
“I’m very aware that people like Kamala Harris and other women are capable of defending themselves,” says Winslow onstage in New Mexico. “They’re smarter than me, they’re tougher than me… I just want them to know that they don’t have to do it alone. I want other men to say — I’m talking about men like me, white guys — they’re going to get into this fight. Not in a narrow-minded, paternalistic way, but we will stand with them and fight.”
Winslow’s speech is a welcome addition to the conversation that is all too often only held by women. And while the courage of women speaking out for reproductive rights is undeniable, it is also true that little can be accomplished unless men are willing to fight alongside us.
Margaret Atwood fans praise the author’s comments on Roe vs Wade
The festival’s prominent speaker, Margaret Atwood, was thanked by Buddhist activist Roshi Joan Halifax for “presenting this issue so frankly”. And it’s fair to say that few people have done more to keep women’s rights prominent in the public consciousness than Atwood, whose dystopian novels The story of the maid and The wills dealing directly with a world where forced pregnancy is the order of the day, and who still writes around 30 political articles a year for various publications. Atwood is open when he talks about what could happen if Roe v Wade is knocked over. If abortion is a criminal offense, “you’re allowed to frame people for abortion,” she says, before impersonating the would-be blackmailer: “You had one, and now where’s my $10,000?”
Atwood never minces his words. “As far as I’m concerned, this is payback for MeToo,” she said during her speech at the inaugural Santa Fe Literary Festival. A week earlier she published excerpts from an essay from her forthcoming collection, burning questions in which she compares women who do not have access to abortion to slaves or involuntary conscripts. “Women who cannot decide for themselves whether or not to have children are enslaved because the state claims ownership of their bodies and has the right to dictate the use of their bodies,” the excerpt reads. “… Force a birth if you wish, but at least call it forcing for what it is. It is slavery: the entitlement to own and control another’s body and to benefit from that entitlement.”
Atwood adds in her essay: “Nobody likes abortion, even when it’s safe and legal. It’s not what a woman would choose for a happy Saturday night time. But nobody likes it when women bleed to death on the bathroom floor from illegal abortions.” In a few short sentences, she skillfully deconstructs the central claim of the “pro-life” cause, a cause that doesn’t actually protect the lives of innocent little babies, but Hundreds of desperate women condemned to a painful death underground. And on the Saturday afternoon of the Literary Festival, Atwood also lays bare the hypocrisy of Supreme Court justices, who say they simply wanted to stick to the original intentions of the Constitution: “If you take the original Constitution [as it is and apply it]many people will lose their rights, including all women … and everyone who does not own property.”
The story of “Roe” from the Roe v Wade legislation is fascinating in itself, a true example of America’s complicated relationship with women’s liberties. Norma McCorvey was given the alias Jane Roe when she took her case to the Supreme Court, arguing that state bans on abortion were unconstitutional. She won the case too late to terminate her own pregnancy and gave birth to a child who was eventually adopted. In a bizarre twist, she then publicly announced that she was “pro-life” years after the verdict, and spent years in the pro-life circuit speaking out about her alleged regrets at helping legalize the process.
Then, in another Atwoodian or perhaps Winslowian twist, McCorvey made an on-camera “deathbed confession” in 2020 to a documentary filmmaker who wanted to film her final months living with a terminal illness. McCorvey said she was given money by the anti-abortion movement that she couldn’t refuse and was simply told to show up to events and repeat a few well-worn lines about her regrets, saying, “I took her money and they kicked me out on camera and told me what to say and that’s what I would say.”
The final confession of “Roe” shows the anti-abortion movement for what it is: decrepit, controlling and immoral. When the newly conservative Supreme Court overturns her ruling in 2022, honoring her last words will be more important than ever. Luckily, a number of public figures are ready to step up to the plate.
“I’ve never seen a bully approach two people standing side by side, let alone 20 or 200 or 2,000 or 200 million,” says Winslow. “And we have these numbers, and we should use them.”
The Independent, as the event’s international media partner, will cover every day of the festival with exclusive interviews with some of the headline writers. You can find more information about the festival on our Section of the Santa Fe Literary Festival or visit the Festival website.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/margaret-atwood-abortion-roe-v-wade-b2084810.html ‘We can’t bring spoons to a knife fight anymore’: How world-famous authors want to fight for Roe v Wade