• Susannah Colt


I had an overnight visit from one of my woodland neighbors who decided to investigate the contents of my trash barrel, which has resided unmolested in my door-less garage for over four years. The 30-gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck was full of my household trash, but when splayed out on the yard, it was obvious my interloper found nothing to satisfy their hunger (I’m using the non-gender identifying term because I have no idea what the visitor’s gender was). I am assuming the visitor was of the bear species, since the barrel with its contents weighed over ten pounds, suggesting a large animal.

Having lived in various forests throughout the state, I have carefully followed the rules of compatible living with wildlife. I don’t feed birds, so I don’t have to bring in my birdfeeders in May and not put them back out until December. I keep my trash contained in trash barrels with a tight-fitting lid and wash out all my recyclables so as not to attract critters with food smells. I understand that bears who are waking up from hibernation are extremely hungry and naturally foraging for food, but it isn’t wise to feed the bears because that would attract them into human habitats where they don’t belong.

I respect their habitat and typically they respect mine (even though I understand that I’ve built my habitat in what used to be theirs). I’ve been told they have really good memories and will return to places that offer delectable treats, which is why I don’t have repeat marauders at my home. My visitors typically just pass through, check things out, and move on. The only evidence of their passage is the scat they leave behind. I don’t know what was different about this year, but fortunately there was no harm done.

The morning after, when I let my dog out for her morning constitution, she ran around the house and immediately discovered the trash carnage. This was unusual because she is also blind, but obviously her nose still works. I followed on her heels and discovered the evidence at the same time she did. She also ignored the trash and sniffed the grass following the scent of the bear instead, running circles around the yard.

For over a week I’ve been running circles around the news of the draft opinion by Justice Alito involving the fate of Roe v. Wade, trying to figure out what to write about it. Finally, the muse walked into my garage.

A draft is nothing but garbage that needs to be cleaned up and repackaged. It was probably written by a clerk whom Alito instructed to write from the most extreme pro-life position, a position he probably personally espouses, but knows that it will have to be toned down in order to appeal to his fellow conservatives on the court. It is also quite likely that he had another clerk write a more tempered version to compare and contrast and pick out whatever morsels he finds palatable.

There is no such thing as a perfect first draft no matter what writing world you live in. In the world of the Supreme Court, nothing is final until all the justices sign off on whatever side they are picking, and it has been announced to the world.

Meanwhile, the unprecedented leak of the first draft has both sides picking through the trash to find clues and hints as to what the final judgment will be. Pro-lifers will be chomping at the bit to run to every state's legislatures to criminalize and/or restrict abortion and the pro-choicers will use it as a cudgel in the mid-term elections to motivate their base.

I am proceeding from the glass half-full point of view, hoping common sense and compassion will prevail and Trump’s attempt to stack the court in order to strip women of a right enjoyed for nearly 50 years will fail. Maybe Justice Gorsuch, who surprised everyone with his opinion that declared transgender individuals cannot be discriminated against in the workplace, will do a Kennedy and change his vote (Justice Kennedy originally voted to overturn Roe v. Wade in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, but later changed his mind and voted to affirm the long-standing precedent).

Whatever the final ruling is, it is likely further restrictions will be placed on a woman’s right to choose and there will continue to be a patchwork of state laws that women will have to navigate. The Republicans who are intent on restricting abortions will have to deal with the reckoning at the ballot box, which is coming. I suspect this will be another defining moment in this country’s history for women. We will figure out a way to stand up and fight for our rights, like we did with the right to vote. I assure you the pro-choice bears will find delectable morsels among the trash that will fuel the continued movement toward equality and respect for women and other marginalized communities. We will not go back!

At least I can begin by cleaning up the mess left by my visitor:

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