Today marks the 43rd anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which in 1973 ruled abortion would finally be safe, legal and regulated. Yay for women’s reproductive rights and progressive health measures, right? Wrong!
As we gear up for the presidential primaries and general election, conservative candidates are claiming that they would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned (Ben Carson), or don’t even believe abortion should be legal in the case of rape or incest (Marco Rubio).
As a pro-choice liberal woman, I have to be completely honest: I am scared and angry.
In 2015 alone, more than 200 bills were introduced in various state legislatures that sought to clamp down on a woman’s ability to access abortion. Since 2011, over 280 abortion restriction bills have been approved nationally. Are you getting the picture?
Among these laws are stipulations that enforce longer wait times, increased distances women must travel to obtain an abortion due to the shutdown of many clinics (Texas, here’s looking at you), unnecessary standards on doctors and health clinics and now, even such extremes such as forcing women to undergo ultrasounds and submit it to the state government in an attempt to “protect women” against doctors who “falsify” the development age of a fetus in order to perform an abortion.
Right now, the Supreme Court is in the midst of hearing testimony from numerous women who have had abortions in the hope they will strike down the oppressive HB-2 bill in Texas, which forces clinics to adhere to expensive and unnecessary standards just to remain open.
Depending on the results of this case, it could influence the way other states view abortion, and potentially become the undoing of Roe v. Wade.
At the same time, Planned Parenthood is finally taking the Center for Medical Progress to court on numerous charges, including racketeering and falsifying documents, in the aftermath of a series of dubiously edited videos purportedly showing PP doctors discussing the sale of baby parts. And let’s be clear, Planned Parenthood is not part of the “political establishment”, they are under attack and are the last line of defense for many low-income women around America.
I’m not just here to recite facts for you, I’m here to urge you to vote. Specifically, vote for a Democrat.
I know I am preaching to the choir, but if there is even one conservative out there reading this who is looking for a key issue to sway them over to the left, let it be this (not Trump). And I’m not just talking about voting for a president. I believe it is even more important to vote in the mid-terms as well as state elections. The more Democrats we vote in, the fewer anti-choice bills get a chance of passing.
Why are women in 2016 still fighting to make their own decisions about their bodies and family planning? Why are conservatives so utterly blind in thinking making abortion illegal will actually stop abortions?
Democratic candidates have been the most vocal on their respective campaign trails (and Hillary has made it a key issue of her entire career, going further to introduce legislation to protect a woman’s right to choose) in saying we cannot go back to a time when women were self-aborting — with horrific tools like a coat hanger — and bleeding to death.
This is a passionate plea for you to get out the vote, tell your friends, and know how important it is for women in America to have access to birth control, family planning resources and abortion.
Men, this is your fight. You have daughters, wives, sisters, friends, colleagues and other women in your life who do not deserve to be told that someone else’s beliefs trump their democratic and autonomous right to make her own health decisions. Democrats are the only candidates who care about reproductive rights.
Women, I urge you to continue raising your voices collectively in order to rise above the false and damaging ideologies that dominate the public airwaves.
It’s why pro-choice activist Lindy West started the #shoutyourabortion social media movement in 2015, to remove stigma from the nearly 1 in 3 women who have had abortions in America and bring some humanity back to this public discussion.
It’s why Planned Parenthood Action Fund, for the first time in its 100-year history, decided to back a political candidate (Hillary Clinton) in the primaries because they know just how serious this fight is.
You don’t have to get pissed off like me — I just want you to care. Care enough to vote for a Democrat.
I leave you all with this final challenge, as we look at the last 43 years of women’s reproductive rights with mixed feelings and deep concerns: Rather than focus only on pro-choice vs pro-life, campaign to reform our hideously archaic sex education curriculum in schools, fight to reform the broken adoption and foster care system where too many unwanted children fall through the cracks, and champion the cause of paid family leave. Because fighting over abortion is merely fighting over one symptom of a much deeper problem.