Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” – Winston Churchill, 1948

Americans recently spent the July 4th holiday celebrating their freedoms and inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness per the Declaration of Independence signed on that date in 1776. However, a recent Gallup poll found that at only 38 percent of respondents say they are "extremely proud" to be an American, down from the 55%. What happened?

For one, just five individuals two weeks earlier rescinded a Constitutional right that had been affirmed by a similar body 50 years earlier. With little forewarning other than subterfuge, this move that affected 64 million Americans landed like a gut punch.

Basically, the U.S. Supreme Court took the “big 180” and reversed Roe v. Wade, the Court’s decision from 50 years earlier that legalized abortion during pregnancy’s first two trimesters. Saying there is no such right – as if life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness are meaningless words – they deferred regulation to the 50 states. This shocked women everywhere who now must deal with a different approaches in each state.

So the question becomes: Is there a predictive model that offers teachable moments to foretell what a patchwork of 50 different state abortion laws will look like in a post Roe world? What problems will they create? What challenges will activists face? How can bad laws be changed? Have the constraints envisioned for abortion posed problems in other social movements? Look no further than cannabis and the War on Drugs. From the popularity of the two issues to their zealous opponents, here are 14 teachable moments that compare the two, offer support and point to solutions.

TEACHABLE MOMENT #1: BACKGROUND – How we got here. From the dawn of humanity, somehow, some place and in some way a female purposefully tried to end a pregnancy. Many were probably successful; others died. And, it seems, as soon as something exits, a group of people somewhere will try to ban it. Dare we call this human nature?

Such is the case with a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision called Roe v. Wade. After millennia of backroom, secretive, dangerous and deadly abortions, the Court finally affirmed that women had the constitutional right to control their bodies and have children when they choose. The decision permitted abortions during pregnancy’s first two trimesters. This principle was based on the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that bars the government from infringing on “life, liberty, or property” without the “due process of law.” This interpretation stood for 50 years until July 24, 2022, when the Court decided a case called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. By a 5-4 majority, the Court dismantled Roe v. Wade claiming that the Constitution’s due process clause “has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution.”

In Justice Samuel Alito’s words: “It is time to heed the Constitution [which didn’t name abortion because women weren’t considered citizens at the time] and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” In other words, the legislatures in each individual state.

While the decision didn’t outlaw abortion, it does present numerous problems and prices to be paid for upending a 50-year old right. While federal law can be administered with consistency across all states, regulations at the state level can be all over the literal map.

This presents a strange new world for patients, family members, healthcare professionals, and civil rights activists. What does the demise of Roe mean? Where can an abortions be had? If illegal, will there be penalties? How severe? What about miscarriages or personal information? 

A window into the dystopian post Roe v. Wade future can be viewed through the lens of the War on Drugs that has been in effect for 50 years. Because some drugs like cannabis are federally illegal, the war has been delegated to the 50 states, but to a far different end than total bans as originally envisioned. Over time, luster has waned, replaced with perceptions of futility and calls for change. Here’s what war on abortion can learn from war on cannabis. 

TEACHABLE MOMENT #2: PREVALENCE – millions affected. Millions of Americans break the law each year when they consume cannabis. Federal law even considers medical marijuana patients law breakers. Abortion laws affect millions of women in the United States, with several hundred thousand having the procedure last year. Even so, the effects of constrictive legislation are beginning to be felt; the number of abortion providers has dropped by half.

  • Cannabis. Even though marijuana is listed as a tightly controlled Schedule I drug, 126 million Americans have broken the law and used it at least once in their lives. Forty-nine million consumed it once in the last year (2020), and 32 million have ingested it in the past month. There are approximately 5.5 million medical marijuana patients. Ohio’s medical cannabis program counts a half million physician recommendations and 150,000 active patients.
  • Abortion. There are currently 64 million women of childbearing age in the United States and 3.6 million annual live births. During In 2020, 1 in 5 (20%) pregnancies ended in abortion. The number of procedures during 1973 when Roe was decided ranged around 744,000. Abortions topped 1.6 million in 1990 and then steadily declined to 930,160 in 2020. Facilities offering abortions in the U.S. number 1,587and included 808 clinics, 518 hospitals and 261 physician offices. These provider counts have dropped significantly since 1982, when there was 2,908 of them. The overturing of Roe may mean that 36 million women will find themselves without safe access to abortion, an important component of feminine healthcare.

TEACHABLE MOMENT #3: HISTORY – extensive. Both cannabis and abortion have extensive histories in the United States and globally. Both were common and foundational in ancient times. Both rode a legal roller coaster of acceptance during the early days of the nation followed by periods of strict prohibition.

  • Cannabis. The first use of cannabis was recorded over 8,000 years ago. Egyptian scrolls of medicinal plants included marijuana as far back as 2000 BC. The governor of Jamestown mandated its cultivation in 1611. Physicians working in India introduced cannabis to Britain in 1842, and by 1850, cannabis had entered the United States Pharmacopoeia. During 1800s and early 1900s, it became major content of patent medicine. Then, against medical advice, it was removed from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia in 1941. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA) placed cannabis in the most restrictive Schedule I, deemed by the federal government as having no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse. Blanket prohibition ensued for twenty five years until 1996 when legendary cannabis activist declared “all use is medical” and Californians passed Proposition 215 legalizing medical marijuana in the state.  
  • Abortion. This medical procedure has existed as long as human kind. The ancient Greeks, Babylonians, Aborigines, and even Biblical and Islamic scholars recorded such procedures. “Quickening” (or “ensoulment” in the Catholic Church) – when a pregnant person first feels fetal movement (third to fifth month of pregnancy) – became the threshold for determining whether abortion was an option. In the Jewish faith, however, the soul is said to arrive upon the baby’s first breath. Benjamin Franklin wrote the standard abortifacient recipe (drugs or herbs used to induce miscarriage) employed during Colonial times. Other 19th century abortion tools included sharp instruments and abdominal pressure often with lethal outcomes. The criminalization of abortion in the United States began in the 1820s and by 1880, all states restricted the procedure. Illegal abortion was the official cause of death for 2,700 women in 1930. In 1972, an estimated 130,000 women obtained illegal or self-induced abortions. Prior to Roe, legal abortions could be had but the process was arduous. States like New York repealed their anti-abortion laws in the early 1970s, but to obtain that legal procedure, women had to travel great distances. In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision enshrined a woman’s right to have an abortion as constitutional right. Its enactment resulted in a remarkable decline of abortion-related deaths. All of this ended with the recent Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs case that delegated regulation to the 50 states. 

TEACHABLE MOMENT #4: POPULAR SUPPORT – majority. Various public opinion polls find overwhelming support for both legal cannabis and legal abortion. In both cases, the Republican Party holds the decidedly minority opinion.

  • Cannabis. According to Gallup, 68% of Americans support fully legalizing marijuana. That’s up from 12% in 1972 during the timeframe in which Roe vs Wade was decided. Eighty-six percent support medical use. Support is clearly weighted toward the Democratic Party in which 83% agree that cannabis should be legal; Republicans split 50/50, for or against.
  • Abortion. A whopping 85% of Americans surveyed by Gallup favor some form of legal abortion; just 13% want to see it “illegal in all circumstances.” Those proportions have changed little since 1975. Over two thirds of Americans think deferring legalized abortion to the states is a “bad thing.”                                                                                 

TEACHABLE MOMENT #5: ZEALOTRY – extremists. Antidrug zealots, pushing for a so-called “drug free world,” piled draconian restrictions on top of one another. An initially soft touch toward policy inevitably resulted in a “whack a mole” prohibitionist approach that is being repeated by anti-abortion extremists who have at times resorted to violence.

  • Cannabis. Throughout the late 1800s and into 1900s, the Progressive Era belief in social purity and moral reform motivated passage of laws, amendments and treaties that criminalized certain substances and activities. Inspired by Harry Anslinger, the “godfather” of drug prohibition, President Richard Nixon in 1971 declared drug abuse “public enemy #1” and launched the “War on Drugs” to halt the use, distribution and trade in substances like cannabis by insnaring them in the most restrictive regulatory category called Schedule I. Nixon began with a soft touch: repealing mandatory minimum sentences and commencing drug treatment programs. For the zealots, this was not enough. During the 1980s and 1990s, with President Ronald Reagan’s own drug war declaration. Congress passed a flurry of anti-drug laws: civil asset forfeiture (1978), increased penalties (1984), mandatory minimum sentencing (restored 1986), driver’s license suspensions (1990), eviction from public housing (1996), denial of federal aid to college students (1998), and “sneak and peak” searches (2001), to name a few. Further, during the 1990s, the “drug free” movement – meaning blanket drug prohibition – was born with the goal of ridding the world of drugs by set moving target dates. Programs included “just say no", D.A.R.E. and “zero tolerance”, all of which eventually failed.
  • Abortion. Since Roe v Wade’s inception, a war has been waged by abortion opponents intent on undoing it. Some opponents became increasingly vocal, active and even violent. Since 1977, there have been 11 murders, 42 bombings, 196 arsons, 491 assaults, and thousands of incidents of criminal activities directed at patients, providers, and volunteers. The perpetrators are often connected with extremist and white supremacist organizations. Some identify themselves with the Christian Right, oftentimes Republicans. Their form of blanket prohibition contends that life begins at conception and that the human zygote, embryo or fetus is a person with a right to life and protection by the Constitution, thus rendering abortion illegal. These zealots have introduced 541 new restrictions just this year. Ancillary laws would bar state funding of certain procedures, require waiting periods, force viewing of ultrasounds, mandate spousal or parental consent and potentially jail doctors and patients who perform and receive the procedure. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has bragged that he’s the most anti-abortion governor in Ohio history, while refusing to comment on the rape of a 10-year old child that resulted in a pregnancy and led to an out-of-state abortion in Indiana. Some like Senate Minority Mitch McConnell are pushing for a federal ban if Republicans gain control of Congress in 2022 and the White House in 2024.

TEACHABLE MOMENT #6: RACISM – least among us. Minorities and the poor bear the unequal burden of being victims of over zealous social policies. The so called “good intentions” that beget these constructs in reality create unforeseen consequences, many of which fall on the society’s least powerful. Despite increasingly draconian controls, these practices continue.

  • Cannabis. The War on Drugs has had a devastating effect on minorities and the poor. Despite lower usage rates than Whites, Blacks are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana and six times more likely to be incarcerated for drug offenses than their white counterparts. Arrest and incarceration can affect people in additional, worse ways: denial of employment, professional licenses, monetary assets, educational opportunities, and more. These effects can be lasting obstacles to prosperity and mental health. As the Global Commission on Drug Policy found, arresting and incarcerating users only fills prisons and destroyed lives, while drugs remain widely available and criminal organizations continue to thrive.
  • Abortion. According to the Guttmacher Institute, those seeking abortions are racially and ethnically diverse at 33% White and 37% Black, with the rest representing other minorities. The abortion rate for Black women, however, is four times higher than that for White women, possibly due to higher rates of intended pregnancy. Three quarters of these individuals live below the poverty line, which leads to an inability to pay for contraception and family planning, a greater overall disease burden, and diminished access to healthcare. And yet, abortion, legal or not, whether in the safety of a hospital or in a dirty bathroom, will continue.

TEACHABLE MOMENT #7: MEDICINE – it’s a medical issue. The plants and procedures to which zealots object are often found over time to be beneficial and subsequently integrated into medical treatment. Such is the case with both cannabis and abortifacients whose medicinal qualities have been known since antiquity, whose properties are determined to be safe, and whose uses are becoming more accepted and widespread.

  • Cannabis. In 1843, Dr. John Clendinning wrote “Observations on the Medicinal Properties of Cannabis Sativa of India” that contained case reports of various patients being successfully treated with hemp tinctures. Then in the early 1940s, the logic underpinning the efficacy of these treatments was revealed. Israeli Dr. Raphael Mechoulam made a groundbreaking discovery: the human endocannabinoid system and its receptors. Essentially, the human body runs on internal chemicals that are remarkably similar to those the cannabis plant. Today, a search of finds almost 30,000 scientific studies concerning cannabis, with three quarters published in the last 10 years. Over 1,500 identify specific actions that treat various cancers.
  • Abortion. A wide variety of drugs, devices and even everyday items were used in the 1800s and 1900s to induce a miscarriage, some dangerous, some deadly. Today, Post Roe v Wade, much safer techniques have evolved: 56% of abortions are surgical and 44% induced by medication. The hormonal abortifacient mifepristone (Mifeprex, aka RU 486) was developed in France during the 1980s and received and received FDA approval in 2000. The FDA permits access to this abortion pill via the U.S. Mail. Mifepristone can also be used to treat high blood sugar, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cancer, and small cell lung cancer. The “morning after pill” (levonorgestrel, aka Plan B) is a hormone based medication taken right after unprotected sex. There are also prescription estrogen/progesterone the antiprogestin pills. Another option is an IUD (intra uterine device). All of these methods are as much as 97% effective in preventing pregnancy.  Women have many reasons for undertaking abortions. These include financial stress, “not the right time,” an abusive partner, other children, and health problems. They may also be victims of rape, incest, and human trafficking. Further, some abortions due to pregnancy complications are absolutely essential: abruption, preeclampsia, ectopic pregnancies, among others. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists asserts, “The best health care is provided free of political interference in the patient-physician relationship. Personal decision-making by women and their doctors should not be replaced by political ideology.” ln fact, comprehensive abortion care is considered an essential health care service by the World Health Organization.

TEACHABLE MOMENT #8: SAFETY – ignored. Why is it that the some of the safest human activities devolve into the most illegal, controversial and zealously contested political “footballs”? Both cannabis and abortion are deemed safe, yet saddled illegality and carceral sanctions.

TEACHABLE MOMENT #9: PENALTIES – don’t fit the crime. Upon making something illegal, penalties that don’t fit the crime will often ensue. At a trillion-dollar cost, anti-drug zeal has resulted an extraordinary number of arrests and incarcerations, only find that prohibition doesn’t work. Is abortion doomed to harsh, escalating restrictions that in the end will prove to be more harmful than helpful? 

  • Cannabis. In 2019, 500,395 people were arrested solely for cannabis possession, more than the sum of all arrests for violent crimes. Since 1980, there have been more than 15 million marijuana arrests, creating the downstream effect of over incarceration. Today, a half million people reside in jails on drug charges and another 1.15 million are on parole or probation. The drug war has cost United States taxpayers $1 trillion since its 1971. In 2011, 50 years after the launch of the War on Drugs, the Global Commission on Drug Policy found that the drug war simply doesn’t work
  • Abortion. Until the demise of Roe v. Wade, there were no penalties for seeking or having an abortion. That is about to change. Current bills before state legislatures border on the draconian. Some will ban abortions after a detectable fetal heart beat (six weeks); some at conception. Some will mandate narrow time frames during which a woman will not yet know she is pregnant. Some will classify abortion as homicide. Some will grant constitutional rights to the unborn. Some will fine providers $100,000 and mandate between 5 to 14 years of prison time. Some will be face lawsuits from private citizens for monetary gain (bounty hunters). Some have no exemptions for rape, incest, lethal fetal abnormalities, or even the life of the mother. Some will bar state residents traveling out of state for an abortion. Bills before the Ohio legislature serve as an example. H.B. 598 would prohibit causing an abortion – under it, a 4th degree felony – using a “substance” or an “instrument.” Even “promoting” abortion would be a 1st degree felony. (Ever heard of free speech?)

TEACHABLE MOMENT #10: ENFORCEMENT – unrelated, unequal, unfair. With zealots in control, there may be few short term limits on how far they will go to enforce their ideologies. They can and will expand far beyond their single topic borders.

  • Cannabis. It wasn’t enough to make cannabis illegal under the CSA and assign harsh sentences up to and including the death penalty. The zealots needed to stamp out drugs, so Congress crafted additional, unrelated sanctions on housing, college loans, drivers licenses, asset forfeiture and more. The tool the that made this happen was drug testing. Chemical tests could be easily administered to determine if a person’s body contained metabolites of illicit substances. If so, employment, licensure, child custody, organ transplants, insurance, and a host of other societal benefits can be denied. Did all of these stop use? The 20 million monthly cannabis users would argue no. Aside from drug test, the government used other methods to sniff out users. The Kyllo decision in 2001 stopped the practice of using thermal imaging (heat) to find marijuana grows. Drop-A-Dime programs and similar tip lines report drug activities to police. Law enforcement often goes undercover to infiltrate dealers. 
  • Abortion. With abortions newly found illegal status in some jurisdictions, particularly as it relates to “bounty hunters,” a new, deeply troubling twist has colored enforcement. In Texas, residents can sue just about anyone who assists a woman seeking an abortion – even the guy who drives the car – for at least $10,000. Already, antiabortion groups have created websites like (that redirects to Texas Right to Life) to anonymously to report suspicious abortion activity. And these tip laws have likewise implications for insurers and other businesses that serve abortion providers. Another twist lies with the Internet and its search engines. Tech companies store a tremendous amount of data on Americans, some of it quite personal. Experts are advising companies and individuals to limit and encrypt the data they keep. The Repro Legal Helpline can help individuals navigate these complex new laws. Currently, there are no chemical tests that can prove someone has had an abortion – yet.

TEACHABLE MOMENT #11: THE STATES – laboratories of democracy. In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision, many states are moving quickly to ban and legally advance abortion prohibition with “trigger laws” that take effect immediately after the Supreme Court ruling. The 50 states will legislate 50 different mechanisms for regulating abortion.

  • Cannabis. Because of federalism – sharing governmental power with the states – states can make their own rules, which many have with regard to cannabis. Despite a complete federal ban, 37 states have some kind law permitting the medical use of marijuana, and 19 have legalized non-medical adult use. Twenty-seven states have decriminalized possession of small amounts, including Ohio in 1975. Only three states have no legal cannabis access whatsoever. For example, possession of three ounces in Idaho is a felony punishable by 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. In Michigan, that amount in the home is no fine, no time. The same would be true under Ohio’s medical marijuana program. Federally, however, possession of any amount the first time – three ounces or a simple leaf – accrues a misdemeanor charge with one year prison time and a $1,000 fine.
  • Abortion. Here is a map from the Guttmacher Institute that shows abortion policies by state. Because the SCOTUS ruling is so new, many of these provisions may change, become harsher or more lenient. For now, it’s no surprise that the strictest policiesand the highest maternal mortality rates – are found in the conservative southern, largely Republican states. Alabama, Kentucky, and Oklahoma completely outlaw abortions. In New York, Colorado, and California, abortion is banned at fetal viability, generally 24–26 weeks of pregnancy. In Ohio, a 2019 law that bans abortions after a detectible heartbeat, recently went into effect. Going even further, the bills in the Ohio House and Ohio Senate would make abortion a felony. The most radical antiabortion states are Texas and Oklahoma.

TEACHABLE MOMENT #12: THE SOLUTIONS – activism. The cannabis example makes clear that draconian laws can change at the state level. Those responsible for these changes are not corporate executives sitting in board rooms. Rather, ordinary citizens – activists – using their personal time and talents to bring reason and logic to thorny debates.

TEACHABLE MOMENT #13: THE TOOLS – how to get it done. Activism is the key to changing the course of abortion or cannabis rights or any other social issue. Politicians and policy makers need to continually know that they are on the right track, what their options are, and what the downside is for veering. Coherent and compelling communication is essential. The opposition for both issues is quite active, so prochoice supporters must tell their stories in understandable and compelling ways.

  • Statewide Ballot initiatives. Nothing moves a lawmaker more than legislating by the people. The mere threat can oftentimes motivate a politician’s position to change from opposition to support. A list of all statewide ballot initiatives in Ohio can be found on the website of the Ohio Attorney General. Most are constitutional amendments, although a recent one for adult use cannabis is an initiated statute (legislative bill). Such initiatives require specific steps and voter signature numbers for ballot placement. Two metrics predetermine success. One is polling. For both cannabis and abortion, those numbers are excellent at support that well exceeds 60%. The other is funding. Ballot initiatives can cost $20 million or more to pay for petitions, circulators and attorney fees to make sure everything is done correctly.
  • Local decriminalization initiatives. Based on home rule, these local initiatives have proven foundational to legalizing marijuana in Michigan with 19 cities passing voter initiatives and one enacting a city commission resolution. Much the same is true in Ohio that counts 29 cities having passed local decrim measure. These initiatives give activists the chance to speak personally with voters, particularly the more conservative rural ones.
  • Legislative lobbying. Of the 19 states that have adult use cannabis laws, seven were enacted by the state legislatures. This means that activists must learn to navigate the legislative process and interact regularly with law makers. Lobbying events can be held, which bring in speakers to address legislative concerns. Some nonprofits like the Marijuana Policy Project offer model bills.
  • Activist groups. Activists are individuals who utilize strong actions (such as public protests) in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue. Groups of articulate, organized activists have the power to sway not only public opinion, but also public policies in the directions of their missions. As one example, a group of 1,100+ doctors called Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights recently sent a letter to the Ohio General Assembly, stating “We demand that Ohio House bill 258/Senate bill 23 be repealed. We ask our elected officials to defend the separation of church and state, to support reproductive autonomy, and to respect our basic rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
  • Earned media. Activists fielding popular issues can earn a great deal of unpaid media coverage called earned media. Citizen initiatives generate community interest, which will gravitate to the media. The aforementioned physicians serve as an example. Press releases serve as another means of grabbing media attention.
  • Internet communication and outreach. The Internet, Facebook, Instagram and other technologies have greatly eased the burden of designing, assembling and sharing information with stakeholders. Some platforms have group pages where events, alerts, and releases can start conversations and change minds.
  • Personal patient stories. Personal stories from those who have experienced the injustices of prohibitions bring perspective and realism to the problems at hand.
  • Seed funding. While passionate activists will often advance their causes with little to no compensation, there will still be transportation, printing, web and other costs necessary for success. Funders like the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance have helped advance may initiative and lobby efforts that change policy.
  • VOTE. Voting is the single most important activity in which an activist can engage. But don’t just pull levers or press buttons. Research the candidates and learn about their positions on progressive causes like abortion and cannabis. Chances are, if they are against one, they’ll be against both. And make sure you’re registered. In Ohio, check here.

TEACHABLE MOMENT #14: INALIENABLE RIGHTS – it’s about freedom. This July 4th leaves many Americans the feeling that the country has drifted away from the inalienable rights it proports to celebrate as written in the Declaration of Independence: Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. These rights belong to all U.S. citizens: cannabis advocates, abortion providers, medical doctors, and of course women. The enforcement of polices related to cannabis and abortion spit in the face of those American values, leaving this fundamental question: Are legalized cannabis and legalized abortion so egregious that the United States should abandon the rights it has historically valued?

  • Cannabis.  Even though the plant has an ancient history, a track record of safety, and an entire bodily system (ECS) that runs on similar chemicals, cannabis remains in CSA’s most restrictive Schedule I, illegal at the federal level. Four attempts have been made at rescheduling, the first in 1972 right after enactment of the CSA; the  DEA denied it 22 years later. A second petition based on medical claims was rejected in 2001. A subsequent filing in 2002 was axed by the DEA in 2011. Again in 2016, the DEA refused rescheduling. More recently, bills to legalize marijuana have twice passed the U.S. House but stalled in the Senate. Related measures such as banking and use by veterans have been attached to, then removed from appropriations bills. One might surmise that the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) would bestow a right to use a very safe plant that contains those same chemicals. But Justice Thomas worried about that, too. “Attempts to justify abortion through appeals to a broader right to autonomy and to define one’s ‘concept of existence’ prove too much. … Those criteria, at a high level of generality, could license fundamental rights to illicit drug use, prostitution, and the like.” Because of dystopian prohibition, cannabis to this day remains in an illegal quandary. Life, liberty and happiness need not apply.
  • Abortion. Those words may not apply to abortion either. The procedure has to be one of the most personal experiences a woman can have. They’re rarely spoken of. Never occur in public. Instead, they reside in the secrecy of a doctor’s office, clinic, or home bathroom. The reality is, from conception to 6-10 weeks, the end result is little more than a mass of cells, eggs, zygotes and embryos. While it may contain instructions to make a human being, it is not a human being. Life, liberty and happiness are concepts that belong to the living. The Constitutional right to an abortion (Roe) that barred governmental infringement without “due process of law” was based on the named the inalienable rights of “life” and “liberty” in the 14th Amendment. In the zeal to advance the antiabortion position, science, compassion and common sense have taken a back seat.  As with cannabis, illegal is not enough.  In Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion, “… in future cases, [the U.S. Supreme Court] should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold (contraception), Lawrence (sex relationships), and Obergefell (same sex marriage),” with the intent of overruling them, too. Further, the zealots want to ban mifepristone (RU 486), Plan B, IUDs, crossing state lines, in vitro fertilization (IVF), dire genetic anomalies, and “promoting” abortion. Some are enlisting “bounty hunters” with monetary rewards to circumvent the courts. From period trackers to cell phones to data brokers to Internet searches, women are also confronting surveillance. Technologies developed post 911 such as national fusion centers will synthesize these data and share it with over 2,000 law enforcement agencies, some of which will initiate prosecutions and incarcerations under new antiabortion laws. Forced birth. Does this sound like the America we celebrate on the 4th of July? Does it reflect the individual rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

If the War on Drugs has taught us anything, it’s that prohibition doesn’t work. Even so, the fanatics will zealously pursue their lost cause. They will ignore popular support, prevalence, history and safety. They gloss over racism. Increased enforcement and harsher penalties won’t assuage them. They will try mightily, but in the end, they will fail. In the meantime, the best antidotes are the activism tools that deliver education and raise awareness. Remember, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”


Just the cannabis portion as facts is here.

Just the abortion portion as facts is here.

A PowerPoint presentation of this article can be found here.


Mary Jane Borden is a best-selling author, talented artist, and award winning cannabis activist from Westerville, Ohio. She was the 2019 winner of the Free Press Libby Award for Community Activism. During her 40-year career in drug policy, she co-founded seven cannabis-oriented groups, co-authored four proposed constitutional amendments, lobbied for six medical marijuana bills, penned over 90 Columbus Free Press articles and has given hundreds of media interviews. Her artwork can be viewed at and she can be reached at maryjaneborden@