One of the most common questions reproductive justice activists get is why we focus on choice in a time where so many other pressing issues – jobs, poverty, healthcare reform – have yet to be solved.
My answer is simple: they’re all connected.
And on the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I think it’s more crucial than ever to reflect on how reproductive autonomy fits in to the bigger question of realizing the American dream.
The ability to determine the timing and spacing of one’s pregnancies (or whether to be pregnant at all) contributes to your ability to enjoy economic security. Unplanned pregnancies can, unfortunately, be costly (particularly if you are un- or under-insured) and can impact your ability to work in some cases. Having the ability to control your reproduction is crucial to controlling your economic destiny.
Access to safe abortion care, contraception, Plan B, medically accurate sex ed, and affordable gynecological screenings and childcare services are at the base of the pyramid that makes up that American dream. Lose Roe – or any of these other pieces – and we risk toppling that pyramid.
Unfortunately, for too many women and men, that’s already happening. And it’s shameful.
The flip side of this is that instead of fixing things like poverty, the economy, or our healthcare system, legislators in Pennsylvania and across the country have focused their efforts on chipping away at choice. Spoiler alert: restricting access to Plan B doesn’t create jobs. Draconian restrictions on abortion services won’t fix our economy.
So as we celebrate 39 years of access to safe, legal abortion, let’s reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that reproductive rights – and the American dream – remain attainable to everyone. Thank you to Gwen for participating in our Roe v. Wage Blog Carnival. Check out her other blog posts at: www.gwenemmons.com
By Gwen Emmons
By Katherine Bisanz
Women who experienced first hand the injustices that made up the daily lives of American women before the Roe v. Wade
decision, which legalized abortion in the U.S., surround us daily. These women are our mothers, our grandmothers, our neighbors, and our teachers, many of them unassuming and too humble to realize the essential role that they played in the freedoms that we enjoy today.
My mother is one of these women. Her current life as a suburb-dweller and family therapist combined with her excessive modesty hardly scream abortion activist. But her role in the movement has offered me a much greater connection to the issue of safe abortion.
My mother worked at a free clinic as an abortion counselor in the late 1960s and early 1970s when abortion was illegal. What she most remembers about the experience is how afraid women were and how powerless they felt over their bodies.
“Women were performing abortions on themselves on a daily basis,” she recalls. Many were seriously injured or died because they had no choice but to take matters, literally, into their own hands. She spoke of the difficulty of getting a woman to a legal, out-of-state abortion clinic before 1973. She remembers the anxiety in the air, as the clinic staff called names off of a list of women who would be sent to New York by bus, where abortion was legalized in 1970. This process was complicated and dangerous for the women and the volunteers involved, but they did what they had to do without flinching, because they firmly believed in our right to choose.
Despite my mother’s knowledge and care in the realm of reproductive health, she was totally unprepared for a pregnancy that occurred when the Dalkon Shield,* a form of intrauterine device (IUD), failed her in 1974 one year after Roe
was passed. She has no doubt that the excellent care that she received from the staff at Planned Parenthood while undergoing the procedure may not have been possible just one year earlier.
Today, 39 years after the Roe v. Wade
decision, several new and proposed laws in Pennsylvania threaten to send us back to the days of unsafe and unavailable abortion care. Let’s not sit back and let legislators take away the rights that my mother fought so hard for. We owe it to our daughters and granddaughters to fight back. *The Dalkon Shield was found to cause severe injury to a disproportionately large percentage of its users which and led to numerous lawsuits and juries awarded millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages to thousands of women. Katherine Bisanz is pursuing a master’s degree in Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania and interning at the ACLU-PA’s Clara Bell Duvall Reproductive Freedom Project.
Thank you to Katherine & the ACLU for participating in our Roe v. Wage Blog Carnival. Check out more information about them at: http://aclupa.blogspot.com/2012/01/from-generation-to-generation-roe-v.html
Help show why the Roe decision is so important for women, especially as the attacks against abortion care continue. Join us in our Blog Carnival by writing a post that reflects why the decision is important to you, discusses the attacks against women’s health, or simply tells your own story or opinions. Here are a few ideas for topics:
- Doctor/Nurse/clinic worker perspective on abortion or on Roe
- Family story about abortion
- Abortion as a health care issue
- Why we need safe abortion
- What Roe means to me
- I’ve had enough of legislative priorities – i.e. anti-choice bills
- Personal story or connection to abortion
- By the numbers – abortion facts Pennsylvania & national – number of anti-abortion bills, number of abortions, number of counties with providers, number of abortion providers, percent of abortions in first trimester, etc etc. just a list of things
To submit a post for Friday please submit it as soon as possible. We will also be posting blogs over the weekend as the Anniversary of Roe is on Sunday. You can email them to email@example.com
. If you have any questions feel free to contact 215-351-5510
On Friday, January 20th look out for your post to be on the We’ve Had Enough Campaign’s Blog and we will be tweeting about it from @WeveHadEnoughPA.
Also on Friday, we will be commemorating the 39th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made it legal for a woman to choose an abortion. Yet, despite the fact that abortion is a legal and safe medical procedure, and has been for the better part of four decades, there still exists those people who seek to undermine that legal right.
This is why we need to stand up and say “We’ve Had Enough.” If you cannot come out to one of the events going on through out Pennsylvania join us on Twitter fromnoon to 1:00 for an Online Rally. People will be live tweeting from the events and we want to hear from you why you have had enough and what the decision in Roe means to you.
All you need to do is follow @wevehadenoughpa
and #roevwade and then tweet from your own account what your thoughts are on the Anniversary of Roe and the attacks against women’s health.
Please use #roevwade in your tweets so we can be sure to see what you are saying as well!
Below are some sample tweets you are welcome to use. ·
To me the #roevwade decisions means... ·
Stop the attacks on women in PA! I am watching!
#roevwade #wevehadenough ·
Thanks to #roevwade abortion is legal but without access to a safe procedure a women’s decision is taken away.
(112 characters) ·
On the Anniversary of #roevwade join the @wevehadenoughpa as we tell legislators to stop limiting access to safe #abortion care. (128 characters) ·
Women's reproductive health has been under constant attack! On the Anniversary of #rovevwade join as we say #wevehadenough (123 characters) ·
It's our body, it should to be our choice right?
Not according to many legislators.
Tell them #wevehadenough #roevwade (123 characters)
If you would like to say more than you can in 140 character also feel free to write a blog post for the blog carnival described above about what Roe means to you, the history of Roe, or how you feel about the attacks against women’s health.
You can send you posts to firstname.lastname@example.org
The We’ve Had Enough Campaign invites you to take part in our Blog Carnival to Commemorate the Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision to take place on January 20th. This ruling by the Supreme Court made it legal for a woman to choose an abortion; yet, despite the fact that abortion is a legal and safe medical procedure, and has been for the better part of four decades, there still exists those people who seek to undermine that legal right.
As bad as 2011 was, sadly, 2012 isn’t looking much better. Our opponents continue to offer ridiculous, dangerous, insulting, and demeaning legislative attacks. We can expect to see more movement with HB 1977, the counterpart to SB 3, that would ban abortion coverage in any insurance plan that will be in the Health Insurance Exchange set up in 2014. We also can expect movement on HB 1077, a mandatory ultrasound bill that would end up pushing abortion later into gestation thus making it more dangerous. And those are just the known battles.
As I reflected on 2011 and all of its disappointments, I thought about what I could do differently in 2012. It is so easy to become discouraged and depressed by the actions of some of our legislators, yet despite the relentlessness of 2011, I for one was incredibly heartened by the testimony of our champion state representatives and senators, inspired by the amazing women and men I saw engaged in the process, and feel more determined than I ever have that we must do our part.
To that end, I resolve to become a more engaged citizen and constituent. I pledge to keep track of issues, of the votes my representatives take, and to let them know what I think, both in thanking them and in sharing my concerns.
The first thing I’ll do is participate in the Roe v. Wade Action on January 20th
. I hope you’ll join me.
I also pledge to vote –and get as many of my friends and family to vote as I can –and I hope each and every one of you does the same. We are incredibly fortunate to live in a country that has a representative government. By engaging ourselves in that government, we can help make sure that our elected officials reflect our values and in so doing, make both our country and our state a better place for everyone.
Sunday, January 22nd marks the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade
, the Supreme Court decision that made it legal for a woman to choose an abortion. Yet, despite the fact that abortion is a legal and safe medical procedure, and has been for the better part of four decades, there still exists those people who seek to undermine that legal right.
In Pennsylvania and across the country, 2011 brought an unprecedented number of attacks on access to abortion care. Abortion access has never been more fragile than it is now. Lawmakers have made it their priority to limit access to abortion services, and we need to make sure they know that we’re watching and we’ve had enough
Help us commemorate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade
, while also sending the message to our legislators and communities that abortion in Pennsylvania needs to stay safe and legal. Join us in Philadelphia from 12-1p at Broad & Walnut Streets for a Roe v. Wade celebration visibility event!
Not in Philadelphia? Check out the other events
around the state to find one near you or organize your own using our handy toolkit
! Also, for those who can't attend but still want to participate stay tuned for info on how to participate in online activities that day.
See you on the 20th.
Knowledge is power right? Well, then what happens when an automated tool that is supposedly there to help you find your way is misguiding you? It appears Siri, the new automated iphone assistant is doing just that. According to RH Reality Check
, Siri doesn’t understand questions like, “I am pregnant and don’t want to be. Where can I get an abortion?” and instead directs people to crisis pregnancy centers that were established by known anti-choice activists. Even questions about birth control and emergency contraception befuddle this supposed wireless wiz who can easily locate the nearest liquor store for you or tell you how to hide a body! Yes, hide a body! @Amadi
brilliantly illustrates the problem with Siri and it's even local for my fellow Pennsylvanians. Check out the coverage on the Daily Beast
So what do we do about this? Sign this petition
to get Apple to fix this immediately!
Defending the right to choose an abortion is imperative for men and women. Because I’m a guy, I’ll never have to make the choice about whether to have an abortion. But I stand with the women in my life and support their right to choose because I want to live in a society that treats its members equally and assures everyone autonomy over their own bodies.
I was shocked when I read this article
about how underrepresented women are in the Pennsylvania legislature. Only 17 percent of Pennsylvania’s legislators are women, and that means Pennsylvania has a lower proportion of female legislators than 41 other states. So when Pennsylvania’s legislature is making decisions to restrict access to abortion, it’s mostly men who are making that decision. In other words, a small group of people, mostly men, are deciding what another group of people, who are all women, can do with their bodies.
I don’t want Pennsylvania to be a society where legislators take away deeply personal rights from people who aren’t even fairly represented in the government.* To me, that doesn’t seem like equality, and it doesn’t seem like democracy.
*I also don’t want Pennsylvania to be a state where legislators drive people to dangerous pseudo-doctors because the legislators have made safe care too expensive or even illegal. But that’s a post for another day.
So the rally is over. But our fight certainly isn’t. As the speakers eloquently said on September 27th, the rally is just the beginning not the end. Instead of covering old ground and explaining why your help is so greatly needed, I’ll just cut to the chase. We need you to:Seriously. We need your help to defeat these attacks!
While we prepare for the rally
on Sept. 27th, it is important to remember that our voices are not just representative of women in Pennsylvania, but for women across the nation.
In 2011, the number of state abortion restrictions skyrocketed. In fact, according to the Guttmacher Institute
, there are now 80 new restrictions on abortions spread over just 19 states. Some of the restrictions, like Ohio's heartbeat bill (which would render abortion illegal after 6-10 weeks) and the Gestational Ban in Kansas, Indiana, Oklahoma, Alabama and Illinois (which would render abortions illegal after 20 weeks) are based on the false claim that fetuses can feel pain, and are bills designed to slowly make abortion more stigmatized. Other restrictions, such as requiring counseling and a waiting period, which has been adopted by five states in 2011, are simply barriers to make obtaining an abortion more difficult.
The two bills being considered by the Pennsylvania state legislature
have already been introduced in other states, and are little more than backhanded attempts to completely eliminate abortion providers. The first, Pennsylvania’s Senate Bill 3
, which would ban insurance companies that cover abortion in an exchange, would ensure that women who already have plans that would cover their procedures would lose that coverage. These restrictions on abortion coverage are already in effect in eight states, including Nebraska and Utah. Pennsylvania’s Senate Bill 732
is strikingly similar to the law passed earlier this year in Virginia – the draft regulations just came out this past week. It would force abortion providers to comply with the same regulations as a hospital or surgical facility, an unnecessary and expensive mandate which could undoubtedly cause many providers to close down and cause the cost of procedures to rise.
Pennsylvanians who rally with us on Sept. 27th
have a chance to speak out on behalf of themselves, but also a chance to speak out for all others living in a state where these restrictions may happen. And if you can’t attend in person, you can join us in solidarity by participating in the twitter rally
going on at the same time! These attacks on women are nationwide, and while we can fight for our own individual state, we still must fight in unity.
By Katherine I had the incredible privilege of speaking with Linn Duvall Harwell, one of the founders of the Clara Bell Duvall Reproductive Freedom Project at the ACLU about the recent legislative attacks on reproductive rights. During our conversation, Linn shared with me that her husband is in hospice care and doesn’t have long to live. The fact that she wanted to take time to speak with me during such a difficult moment points to her steadfast, lifelong commitment to the issue of reproductive freedom for women.
Linn Harwell’s mother, Clara Bell Duvall was the victim of an unsafe abortion in the 1920s, well before abortion was legalized under Roe V. Wade in 1973. This tragic event stayed with her and became the catalyst for her career and commitment to women’s reproductive rights activism.
During our conversation, she shared her disgust with proposed Senate Bill 732
and said, “I am appalledto witness the continuity of that effort from many years ago to reinstate those kinds of restrictions. For me, it all equals restrictions for women.”
She believes that supporters of the anti-abortion movement lack knowledge of the conditions that existed before Roe V. Wade
and “do not know the history that preceded Roe v. Wade
and why Roe v. Wade
came to be.”
She urges Pennsylvanians to open their eyes to the gravity of the issue and reminds us of a time when things were not so easy, a time that could become a reality once again if we do not take action. “Please don’t take these things for granted. Call your representative and tell them where you are and what you need to prevent tragedies in the public health of our nation,” she said.
She stressed the importance of men’s participation in the effort and believes that educating men about reproductive health and preventative medicine would provide them with a basis to take action. “The relationship of the man who is relating to the woman in need is essential and we are neglecting educating men on this issue,” she said. She believes that her husband’s unwavering support has been a strong presence in her career as an activist and in her role as a mother.
Linn believes "We've Had Enough"
could transform the movement:“All my life I have regretted the nature of my mother’s death and so I have worked for women I have never known and I would love to see Pennsylvania pick up and care about people that they don’t know.” This blog post has been cross posted at Speaking Freely, the blog of the ACLU of PA: http://aclupa.blogspot.com/2011/09/when-abortion-was-illegal.html