Each January marks the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, giving women the right to choose an abortion. Every year, both Pro Choice and Pro Life groups gather to support their respective views. This year is no different. The 40th annual Pro-Life March for Life is scheduled for January 25. A majority of Americans support a woman’s right to an abortion. 70% of Americans now say they support a woman’s right to an abortion in a poll taken this month.
On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court held in a 7-2 decision that a right of privacy existed under the due process clause of the 14th amendment of the Constitution to a woman’s right to an abortion. Forty years later, Pro-life forces are still arguing that the Supreme Court got it wrong and want to reverse it. In recent years, it is clear that many GOP controlled state legislatures want to limit access to an abortion and thereby dilute a woman’s right to choose.
The Republican controlled Congress and many state legislators have focused on an extreme anti-choice agenda. They have gone from trying to re-define rape to allowing hospitals to refuse abortion care to women who will die without an abortion.
Organizations like NARAL Pro-Choice America continue to protect the future of reproductive rights for the next generation. Instead of Republicans dampening the resolve of NARAL Pro-Choice America and other pro-choice organizations, it has deepened their resolve to protect reproductive freedoms. NARAL Pro Choice America President Nancy Keenan once remarked that the strongest steel is made in the hottest fire. And Keenan states in relationship to Roe v. Wade, “we are putting out fires every day…and we are stronger for it.”
One of the greatest strengths of pro-choice forces lies in the Millennials, those born after 1980, according to Keenan. Millennials are more pro-choice than the country as a whole. And by 2020, Millennials will make up 40 % of the eligible voters in the country. Nancy Keenan reminds us that America does not have a mandate to attack a woman’s rights. NARAL has played a pivotal role as a leader of the pro-choice movement for over 40 years.
While many conservative states aim to limit access to abortion, states like California have fought back against these limitations. California Attorney General Kamala Harris fought back California’s ballot measures requiring parent notification for minors and a waiting period of 48 hours. However, 43 states now require parental notification. California, the nation’s largest state of women and particularly young women, must have safe access to reproductive service, Harris argues.
A woman’s right to choose is a basic human right. And it continues to be under attack by politicians who want to make government smaller by making government ”just small enough to fit inside our bedrooms and our medicine cabinets” says NARAL President Keenan. The disrespect for women continues in many states. Cuts for family planning programs are underway in Wisconsin. Although Roe v. Wade prohibits a state from completely denying an abortion, many states have placed extreme restrictions on having an abortion. A few examples are Oklahoma and Nebraska. A law passed in Oklahoma requires a doctor to show the ultra sound of the baby to the mother, even if the pregnancy is a result of incest or rape. The Oklahoma law requiring public posting of women’s names who had an abortion was struck down as unconstitutional. Nebraska mandates a denial of an abortion if over 20 weeks. It faces a lengthy legal battle. According to Pro Choice America, “women facing the direst of circumstances are among those who receive the 1.5 percent of abortions that occur after 20 weeks.”
Reproductive freedom is a part of the promise of freedom of our forefathers of 1776. There is no freedom for women without reproductive freedom. The struggle for women’s rights and the right to choose is about the struggle for human justice. And the fight continues.
Happy Birthday Roe v. Wade.