As you may know, January 22nd was the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that upheld women’s right to have an abortion based on her right to privacy in her medical decisions. This decision legalized abortion in the United States, saving many women’s lives and granting them freedom over their reproductive choices.
An unmarried pregnant woman who sought abortion, a doctor who was at the time being prosecuted for performing abortions, and a married couple concerned about their future of pregnancy and contraception brought forth the class action suit in 1973. Though it was determined that only the woman (Roe) and the doctor (Hallford) had standing to sue, after a month of debate it was decided that women could not be prohibited from having an abortion in her first trimester based on the right to privacy given by the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
Thanks to this decision, most of us have grown up living in a country where abortion is legal. Most of us have never had to consider having an illegal abortion, or worry about a loved one getting sick or dying from an unsafe procedure.
It may seem, especially to younger people who have grown up with the right to have an abortion if they choose, that Roe v. Wade is a solid institution, safe and here to stay. But please, don’t take your medical privacy for granted. Enemies of reproductive rights are working hard to chip away at them, proposing laws that allow the government to intervene between you and your doctors medical decisions.
Already in Florida we have a law mandating that women view and hear a description of their ultrasound before a pregnancy, a move meant to shame and intimidate a woman seeking a termination. Personhood laws, which would outright ban abortion in the state in which they pass, are being proposed nationwide. Again in Florida, Representative Charles Van Zant is introducing for the 3rd time his Florida for Life Act that would ban abortion except if the mother’s life is at risk, a devastating move for women and an outright challenge to Roe v Wade.
Get involved in the fight, stay aware of what your politicians are working on, and don’t assume that your ability to obtain an abortion (or even birth control!) will be around forever without help. For up to date information about what’s going on in your state and how to take action, please consider signing up at the Planned Parenthood Action Center, or look at other ways to get involved at Planned Parenthood.