Photographer Raquel Natalicchio (@raquelnatalicchio) documents social issues with a focus on community-driven stories, political mobilization and migration at the US/Mexico border. "My work focuses on the universality of humanity, with the recurring themes being love, struggle, resilience and community," Natalicchio says.
The US Supreme Court passed Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973. This constitutionally protected the right to have an abortion. A woman named Norma McCorvey, known to the public as Jane Roe, brought the case forward. She was experiencing her third pregnancy when she decided that an abortion was her only option. She lived in Texas where the procedure was illegal and only granted in extreme, life threatening situations. Ultimately, the Supreme Court gave a 7-2 decision in her favor, citing the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which communicates "the right to privacy" and therefore protects a person's right to choose the procedure.
When Natalicchio saw the draft leak she immediately began her work. She covered one of the first protests to take place in LA. "I not only went out to document as a photojournalist, but also as a woman who has had an abortion and believes in bodily autonomy." On June 24 the landmark decision was overturned by five justices, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Niel Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh. Protests immediately broke out at the Supreme Court, and increasingly across the country.
I remember standing amidst the sea people - there were hundreds - who had come out to protest and grieve together. There were people of all ages and from all walks of life crying, holding one another, and expressing anger, frustration and fear. I was surrounded by the very same emotions that were whirling within me.
Natalicchio shared her thoughts on her decision to undergo this procedure. "Personally, there is not a day that goes by that I do not believe I made the right choice for myself. Had I not had an abortion, I would have had to raise a child with an abusive partner. Instead, I now have the freedom to live and work for the kind of life that brings me happiness, safety and fulfillment."
When Justice Clarence Thomas stated his decision he suggested overturning rulings on other groundbreaking cases. These cases include Griswold v. Connecticut, which protects the right to contraception, Lawrence v. Texas, which protects the right to same-sex intimacy and Obergefell v. Hodges, which protects the right to same-sex marriage. Natalicchio reflects, "I continue to document the aftermath of the Supreme Court's decision because this may very well be what triggers a potential domino effect that will strip away the rights of millions of people... Threats to reproductive health, indigienous sovereignty and now same-sex marriage are putting people's rights - and lives - in danger."
Natalicchio has photographed many protests and demonstrations following the Court's decision. One demonstration involved four women painted with fake blood and chained to Los Angeles City Hall. They poured fake blood down the steps and called for Roe v. Wade to be restored. This protest led to their arrest. Another group of protestors made their way onto the 110 freeway in downtown LA. Natalicchio captured the intense anger and overwhelming despair.
Natalicchio is a photojournalist - she can be found at many protests across the city. Because of the amount of time she spends on the ground, she sees a disparity of women to men in the photojournalism industry. During protests and other events she notices the lack of women in large groups of press. "I think about what is lost and ultimately hidden from millions of viewers and readers across the country." She comments on the "effect that has on how we not only perceive and understand the issue, but also what we do moving forward." She says, "I urge editors to look through their roster and assign work to women, especially women of color, trans and nonbinary photojournalists and journalists."
Not only has the right to bodily autonomy been lost, but the decision to overrule the longstanding Roe v. Wade will most likely lead to the revisiting of other cases, and the potential overturning of those cases. Fundamental rights are at risk.