You may have been marching and protesting this past weekend, but few had the kind of stage as Olivia Rodrigo, the Asian American Filipina pop megastar.
She spoke out as a voice for her generation before tens of thousands at the Glastonbury Festival in England.
“I’m devastated and terrified,” Rodrigo, 19, is quoted in The Guardian, talking about the U.S. Supreme Court decision to take away the Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion and leave it up to the states. “So many women and so many girls are going to die because of this."
Blunt but true.
And then Rodrigo dedicated the next song to “the five members of the Supreme Court who have showed us that at the end of the day, they truly don’t give a sh*t about freedom. The song is for the justices: Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh. We hate you! We hate you.”
And then she and British singer Lily Allen sang the song, “F*** You.”
It wasn’t an angry protest. The song was delivered with a rollicking defiance and exuberance, as if to dare the court to stop any woman from exercising her reproductive rights.
And that’s the problem, really.
It became clear to me as I contemplated how some in San Francisco were marking an independence celebration even as they all had fewer rights.
The Filipino American community in the Bay Area took its turn to celebrate the Philippines’ independence from Spain (1898), on a Sunday after most Filipinos displayed their enduring loyalty to Catholicism and colonialism.
Our chains still show.
But to celebrate any independence and freedom on this weekend showed how our brown Filipino skin is a rich ironic rust.
For this was the first weekend after America actually took a step toward being more like the Philippines, with its Spanish theocratic hangover.
By overturning Roe v. Wade, the U.S. left it to the states to make it illegal to have an abortion.
As a result of the actions last Friday, abortions are now illegal in Utah, South Dakota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Alabama. And when the fallout is complete, as many as 26 states could criminalize abortion.
In other words, your state too could soon have laws that look like the Philippines.
For more than 100 years, and then recodified in 1987, abortion is in the Philippines constitution, Article II, Section 12.
It’s like it had been written by Samuel Alito or Clarence Thomas.
“The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the Government.”
That’s the law in the Philippines that makes abortion illegal and allows for mandatory prison time for any woman who gets an abortion, and for any person who helps her.
But as Rodrigo sang in her song, the laws don’t stop people from getting an abortion.
That’s the sad, sad reality.
In the Philippines, 37 percent of all births are unwanted, and 54 percent are unintended. And four out of five abortions are for economic reasons, according to the Philippines Orphanage Foundation.
It means illegal abortions are commonplace, putting women and babies at risk. Back alley abortions in back of corner stores and in non-medical, unhygenic situations? Happens all the time in the Philippines.
And since illegal abortions aren’t reported, it’s hard to get a number. But the World Health Organization has placed the number as high as 800,000.
The demand is there, law or no law.
That’s what happens to a small country like the Philippines, where there is no constitutional right to an abortion.
And now the U.S. Supreme State has paved the way for the Philippines Constitution to be the model for your state in the U.S.A.?
Olivia Rodrigo can sing the response.
See my previous column on the Supreme Court decision here: https://www.aaldef.org/blog/emil-guillermo-roe-v.wade-overturned-and-the-crying-in-our-divided-country/
NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on www.amok.com.