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Opinion Where female activists have come since Dobbs — and what awaits

American women have been on an emotional roller coaster since the Dobbs Supreme Court decision ending the right to abortion came down on June 24. They knew the decision would eviscerate women’s rights and entail dire consequences. The full range of emotions (disbelief, anxiety, anger, dread) reverberated in their texts, emails, Zoom sessions and other conversations. Women literally did not count in the constitutional calculation. Unlike gun owners or prayer-leading coaches, American women would have to take their chances with 50 legislatures and governors. The same crowd that cheered when the court forbade states from working out gun regulation now is blasé about leaving women's fates to politics, which hardly constitutes pristine democracy.

Women dominated the resistance to Donald Trump by making alliances, recruiting new candidates and reengaging in politics. Democracy must be defended from the bottom up. No political leader on high can ensure human dignity and autonomy for all Americans. Every expansion (and recovery) of rights is achieved through mass movements devoted to perfecting our union.