36 Years of Roe
Thirty-six years ago, the Supreme Court established a woman’s right to a legal abortion in the United States with the decision of Roe v. Wade. Since then, social conservatives have threatened to strip women of this right time and time again. With far too many successes to this end, now more than ever is the time to stand up for a woman’s right to choose.
The need for abortion cannot be ignored:
- Nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended.
- More than one-third of American women will have had an abortion by the time they are 45.
- Around the world 20 million women are driven to unsafe abortion every year.
Either can the threats to Roe v. Wade:
- From 2005 – 2007 38 abortion bans were introduced in 17 states.
- To date 43 states have mandated parental notice or consent laws to limit access to abortion for young women.
- In the event of Roe’s reversal, 30 states are likely to restrict or outlaw abortion altogether.
This tug and pull between what women need and what they can get is never ending and frustrating for a feminist, ardently pro-choice woman like myself. Former (that word never sounded so sweet) President Bush’s most recent attack on women’s health – the passing of regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – just a month shy of his departure from office is the lowest blow yet and proof of the precarious status of women’s health in the U.S.
The midnight rule allows anyone who provides healthcare services, from the receptionist booking appointments to the doctor in the operating room, to refuse women care based on religious or moral beliefs. The most obvious procedure people may have personal objections to is, of course, abortion, but the rule also leaves the door open for refusing to provide women with basic forms of contraception, counseling and information, or even referrals to healthcare professionals who would provide these things. Talk about a parting gift for women’s health.
Luckily enough, in the wake of a new administration there is hope and the possibility of undoing the damage of years past. What we need now is:
- Supreme Court justices that will defend and protect Roe;
- Comprehensive sex education programs that will educate youth on the responsibility and consequences of having sex;
- A repeal of Bush’s devastating global gag rule;
- A restoration of funding to the U.N. family-planning program;
- And last but not least, a reversal of the HHS regulations, that only seek to undermine the decisions women make and hinder their ability to make them.
President Obama, we need you as an ally in the fight for women’s reproductive freedom now more than ever. On this 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, let us remember that a woman’s right to choose hangs in the balance and your support will determine which way this battle swings. Please do not disappoint us!
Artwork: creativecommons.org via flickr.com (alexandralee's photos)