In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court recognized that a woman has a right to make fundamental decisions affecting her health and future, including whether or not to obtain an abortion. In the decades since Roe, women and their families have come to rely on the right to an abortion.
Today, however, the well-established right to an abortion is being attacked under the guise of religious freedom, putting a woman’s ability to obtain a safe, legal abortion in jeopardy. The first refusal law was enacted shortly after Roe, allowing individuals and entities to refuse to provide abortions or sterilizations due to religious beliefs. Since then, nearly every state has adopted a comparable law. Recent years have seen an increase in legislative activity related to refusal laws, as well as an expansion of refusal rights. For example, in some states medical professionals can refuse to provide referrals to women, pharmacists can refuse to fill birth control prescriptions, and hospitals can refuse to offer health care services to which it is opposed. Read more »
Forty-two years ago the Supreme Court recognized that a woman’s right to decide whether to have an abortion is a fundamental right, and the Court stated in no uncertain terms that “The detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying this choice altogether is apparent.” The landmark case changed the lives of millions of American women over the last four decades. And with the right to decide firmly entrenched we all lived happily ever after, right? Nope. Wrong. Read more »
Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade. In Roe, the Court recognized for the first time that the constitutionally protected right to privacy encompasses a woman’s right to decide if, and when, she becomes a parent.
As a twenty-five year old woman, who has only lived in a post-Roe world, it can be difficult to imagine the landscape of women’s health and reproductive rights issues prior to this decision. I cannot fathom a world where abortion is illegal, forcing women to resort to dangerous back alley abortions.
Even though Roe was decided 42 years ago and even though it’s the only reality I know, the fight to protect the right is more critical now than ever. In Texas, for example, an extreme anti-abortion law shut down more than half of abortion clinics. There are now huge parts of Texas where women no longer have access to these services. Read more »
Forty-one years ago Roe v. Wade made clear that women have a fundamental right to choose when and whether to have children. But, today, as some states restrict abortion, many women find themselves unable to exercise this fundamental right. Women of color and low-income women, who have never had equal access to abortion, bear the brunt of these restrictions. Seventy-percent of low income women who obtained an abortion report that they would have preferred to have the abortion earlier. Waiting periods and required ultrasounds force low-income women to take additional time off of work and find child care and transportation. For many women, these can be insurmountable obstacles. One study found that after Texas enacted its waiting period and ultrasound requirements, women had to wait an average of 3.7 days between their initial visit and the abortion. The wait times were primarily caused by scheduling difficulties. Women traveled an average of 84 miles, round-trip and incurred an additional $146 in travel expenses, child care costs and lost wages. Dr. Willie Parker, who has traveled from Chicago to Jackson, Mississippi twice a month to work at the state’s sole abortion clinic recently told Salon, “The women who are disproportionately affected by these cumbersome laws are poor women of color . . . There is virtually no financial support because of the Hyde Amendment. Women who are on Medicaid or public assistance cannot use that money for their care.” Read more »
I love anniversaries, and not just because there’s usually some sort of cake involved, but because they mark significant and positive milestones in our lives and allow us to reflect proudly on overcoming setbacks and making progress throughout time. Last week marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that recognized the right to safe and legal abortion nationwide. Excitingly enough, one of the few things that I like more than anniversaries and cake is being able to exercise my own reproductive freedom. So wouldn’t it have been great to have a big “Happy Birthday, Roe v. Wade!” party with balloons and ice cream and stories happily recounting the wonders and advancements that the last 40 years have brought us? Yeah, not so fast. While women across the country should have spent January 22nd celebrating the 40th anniversary of this landmark decision, our would-be celebration was being rained on by the lingering reminders of hundreds of restrictive laws and stringent policies that have impeded a woman’s ability to access safe and legal abortions since Supreme Court decision was handed down in 1973.
Last Wednesday I had the privilege of attending a panel discussion at Georgetown Law School, entitled “Reproductive Rights 40 Years after Roe”. The discussion featured four panelists who each represented a different facet of the reproductive rights movement: Jessica González-Rojasfrom the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Helene Krasnoff of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Walter Dellinger, partner with O’Melveny & Myers LLP and former acting U.S. Solicitor General, and Marcia Greenberger of the National Women's Law Center. Read more »
As I venture my way through my early twenties, I’ve come to realize that my generation has become a fish tank for our younger and older counterparts. We are viewed as entitled (You expect me to pay my cell phone bills?! Do you think groceries grow on trees?) yet we desperately yearn for what we imagined our independent twenties would be like (walking briskly with a cup of Starbucks, probably on our way from one world-changing meeting to the next) and to be taken seriously and trusted. There are countless articles, books, movies, TV shows written about our generation – but you really don’t know what it’s like to be in our shoes. (Shameless plug: Check out This is Personal’s Not in Her Shoes blog!)
We are truly in a state of transition, but that doesn’t make us any less of an adult, and that doesn’t make us any less capable of making our own decisions. We’re all learning and we need the freedom to be trusted to make decisions for our own private lives.
As for me, well, let’s just say that I think I’ve held up pretty well for someone who grew up in the pre-sunscreen era and has two kids under the age of 4. Still, there’s no doubt I have more wrinkles, more aches and pains, and less flexibility than I used to. Read more »
The recent report that a majority of Americans under 30 don’t know what Roe v. Wade was about is not really shocking. But it is telling.
Today, the fight to protect Roe v. Wade isn’t about Roe. The fight isn’t even about winning society’s opinion on whether Roe should be overturned, because, as polls have consistently shown over the years, the majority of America thinks it should not be.
No, instead, the fight has turned into a battle of which side is the most successful in capturing state governments. Unfortunately, the voice of those wanting to ban abortion has been quite successful in getting states to make it impossible to get an abortion even if Roe theoretically remains intact. This is the voice that is driving abortion facilities out of existence, forcing women to undergo unbelievably long waiting periods, make unnecessary, burdensome visits to “crisis pregnancy centers,” and receive medically unnecessary ultrasounds. This is the voice that wants to interfere with the physician-patient relationship and force doctors to lie to their patients. The voice that wants to shame, scare, or physically prevent women from getting abortions. This is the voice of a small minority who wants to impose its religious and moral beliefs on women’s lives they know nothing about. It’s the voice that hurts women and their families.
But things are changing. The voice of the majority is starting to be heard again. Read more »
When my coworker posed the question, why are you celebrating women being able to access preventative services without a copay, my answer was sure and simple, “Because women deserve it.”
Not everyone agrees with that statement. If the last months of public debate have shown anything, it’s that there are a wide variety of views on the women’s right to access reproductive healthcare. Some people think it is good public policy and long overdue; others think that it’s a gift or worse, immoral.
She was unwed and pregnant. She found an abortion provider. She had the procedure. But something went wrong. She ended up in the emergency room bleeding with an infection that could have taken her life.
This was in New York in the 1960’s. This was pre-Roe. Women died from complications of illegal abortions. Read more »