Emily Nokes of Tacocat Reacts to Roe v. Wade's Reversal

Sound and Vision
Emily Fox
Tacocat // photo by Alley Rutzel

The official US Supreme Court ruling came down last Friday striking down Roe v Wade. That decision now eliminates the constitutional right to an abortion. Emily Nokes is the lead vocalist of Seattle band Tacocat. Tacocat has covered reproductive health in their music with songs like "Crimson Wave," a song about menstruation, "Annual Violation" which talked about pap smears a urinary tract infection anthem called "U.T.I.", and "Plan A, Plan B," a song about emergency contraception. Nokes is also the creative director at Shout Your Abortion.

Nokes and a few others from Shout Your Abortion protested in front of the US Supreme Court late last year to raise awareness about abortion access and the abortion pill. Sound & Vision's Emily Fox caught up with Nokes on Friday to ask about her reaction to the news on Roe v Wade.

Emily Nokes: We knew that this was coming. We did know that this was going to happen. We didn't know exactly when, but we knew what the decision was going to be, basically. So ever since the leak happened in early May, we've been working really hard to Shout Your Abortion to prepare for this moment. But no amount of trying to process ahead of time and no amount of preparation can really emotionally prepare you for what it's like to read that headline. And I was already awake somehow, which is uncharacteristically early for me. So I read it in real-time – "Roe versus Wade has been overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States." And, I mean, that is... That's heavy. It just is. It did feel shocking. It felt gruesome. It just felt really surreal on so many levels. So even though I knew it was coming, I felt deep, deep waves of rage and sadness.

And, you know, I really sat with it for a minute. I texted my best friends and the team at Shout Your Abortion. And I did a little bit of writing. I just walked outside and stood there and then let it sink in. And then I came back inside and I went back to work because... There's the other part of it. I don't care about the Supreme Court. I don't care what they think and I don't care what they say. And I don't care about the Supreme Court's decision in this. They don't care about us. The Supreme Court doesn't care about me. The Supreme Court doesn't care about us. So what I do care about is my community and helping people get abortions, as many abortions as they need, whenever they need them.

So I went through a lot of hurt feelings this morning, but that's the bottom line. I don't care what they think and I don't care what they say because they don't care about me. So I will aid and abet abortion no matter what. Yeah, that's sort of all the different waves of feelings that went through my mind and my body this morning. 

KEXP: I mean, with Shout Your Abortion, I mean, we talked to you back in January. This was shortly after you and a few folks at Shout Your Abortion took abortion pills in front of the White House and sharing information about access to abortion pills, saying, if you live in these states, if Roe v Wade is overturned, you still have access to abortion pills that you can take at home. You know, they can be delivered to your door. And so I'm curious what has been the work leading up to this point, kind of knowing that this would happen? But also, what kind of work are you anticipating from here on out with Shout Your Abortion? 

EN: Yeah. So that demonstration that was actually in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., and that was yeah, that was sort of the beginning of really realizing that we were wanted to pivot towards educating people about abortion pills because that's just the best way to make abortion widely accessible to everyone. So a lot of our work has been around that, like getting educated on it. They're extremely safe, they're extremely effective. It's a great way to not have to go to a doctor's office for whatever reason you don't want to do that, whether it's legal or not, whether maybe you just don't feel comfortable, maybe you don't have gender-affirming health care or whatever it is. Abortion pills are a great way to just take it into your own hands.

So a lot of our work has been around that because that's just simply the best way to really get the information out that like it doesn't matter what the Supreme Court says we're going to do it anyway. We will save us. We are the ones that will be doing this for each other, with each other, helping each other. Abortion access is a community responsibility. This is going to be an all-hands-on-deck thing. It affects every single person regardless of whether you can have an abortion or not. So yeah, that's that work has been very important to us and has been something that we're strongly highlighting these days because, you know, we could feel the shift that when our rights and things like that are getting taken away, it doesn't matter because we're going to do it anyway. 

KEXP: And obviously you are in a band, you've written so many different songs like about menstruation, about Plan B, so many things. And so I'm just curious as you reflect on what's happening in the world, is there a Tacocat song that comes to mind or a song from another artist that you feel is really resonating with you right now given this latest news? 

EN: Honestly a Tacocat song that's hitting for me today is actually a pretty hopeful song. I do believe that this is a great time to be angry and we have plenty of angry songs too. But I really like the song "New World" because it's a hopeful song that I wrote in 2017 or 2018 when it sort of felt like things couldn't get much worse, which is saying something considering how much worse they have actually gotten. But the lyrics are pretty positive because it seems sort of antithetical given the news. But it's this sort of fantasy about creating a paradigm shift. Just like New World. New Planet. Better than the one we left behind. It's sort of about not accepting things the way that they are and that we can make a new world and we can, you know, as cheesy as that is, we can be the change. Like, we have to be. So I want to feel hopeful. I want to see the pathway to the door. I want to see things get better. I want to see us help each other. So that's been kind of hitting for me today. 

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