Today marks the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that upheld a woman’s right to an abortion. We stand at a critical juncture in 2013. While abortion rights and access to reproductive health care and family planning for women and men have been steadily undermined since the 1970s, a recent NBC and Wall Street Journal poll showa that today a majority of Americans support upholding the Roe decision and maintaining a woman’s right to choose .
The tide of public opinion and the body electorate in the United States is with us and they see through the subterfuge of those states, legislators, and organizations that oppose maintaining a woman’s constitutionally protected right to an abortion. The anti-abortion (or anti-woman’s lives) contingent seeks not only to limit or eradicate access to abortion, but to limit access to birth control, to sexual health/STD/HIV screening, to mammograms, and to family planning. Moreover, they have imposed restrictions and laws that impact the most vulnerable and underserved populations by restricting funding for abortion, allowing insurance companies and employers to refuse coverage for birth control as a basic medical need, imposing regulations on women’s health clinics that make access to safe and legal abortion virtually absent in many states, and enacting barbaric practices, such as shackling pregnant women during labor in correctional centers. In 2012, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights (www.reproductiverights.org), more than 40 state laws were passed restricting women’s rights and healthcare. These efforts are rooted in ideological and religious motivations that deliberately attempt to deny women’s fundamental human rights of safety, dignity, equality, autonomy, and economic justice.
On a more positive note, the recent presidential election has demonstrated that the American public and the global community will no longer sit passively by while efforts to deny women of their fundamental human rights continue. The anti-woman culture and rhetoric, such as that of out of touch senators and congressional representatives who express such regressive views on issue like rape, have been delivered a resounding “no” at the polls. More Americans than ever support maintaining Roe v. Wade and stand strong with us on this 40th anniversary. They stand with their daughters, mothers, sisters, wives, and fellow human beings. We refuse to return to the days of unsafe, illegal abortion; instead we look towards advancing the mantle of health, safety, reproductive health justice, and access to services and contraception that allow women to exercise their autonomy. We support on this anniversary of Roe v. Wade the Bill of Reproductive Rights (www.drawtheline.org):
We the people of the United States hereby assert the following as fundamental human rights that no government may deny, and that our governments, at every level must guarantee and safeguard for all.
One: The RIGHT to make our own DECISIONS about our reproductive health and future, free from intrusion or coercion by any government, group, or individual.
Two: The RIGHT to a full range of safe, AFFORDABLE, and readily ACCESSIBLE reproductive health care including pregnancy care, preventive services, contraception, abortion, and fertility treatment— and accurate information about all of the above.
Three: The RIGHT to be free from DISCRIMINATION in access to reproductive health care or on the basis of our reproductive decisions.
Jennifer J. Armiger, Ph.D.