On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision, Roe v. Wade, recognizing the constitutional right to privacy and a woman’s right to choose abortion. Many of us don’t recall the deadly days before Roe when abortions were illegal and "choice" for too many women meant a dangerous back-alley procedure. In fact, in 1965, before Roe, nearly one-fifth of all maternal deaths in the United States were due to illegal, unsafe abortions.
It’s more than three decades later, yet a woman’s constitutional right to choose still isn’t safe and Roe is in serious jeopardy. In 2005, Congress confirmed the appointment of two new anti-choice Supreme Court justices — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., both of whom had been nominated by President George W. Bush. As a result, the court is closer than ever to overturning Roe.
Two years later, in a 5–4 decision, the court upheld the federal abortion ban passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2003. Although Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land, the ban criminalizes abortions in the second trimester of pregnancy that doctors say are often the safest and best to protect women's health. Thus, the ruling allows politicians to make medical decisions that should be made by women and their doctors. Now, anti-choice legislators are attempting to launch a wave of state abortion bans, in the hope that the new anti-choice court will overturn Roe, leaving a woman’s right to choose safe and legal abortion in the hands of 50 different state legislatures...
Here are ways to commemorate the day:
- Blog for Choice - it's not too late...
- Find an event in your area
- Support President Obama's efforts at repealing the global gag rule
- Learn the history of women's health care prior to legalized abortion
- Send a letter to your members of congress urging them to support pro-choice legislation
- Write a letter to the editor about why Roe is important and how thankful you are to have at least 4 more years of choice.
Press release from the President:
On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose.
While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services.
On this anniversary, we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons: the chance to attain a world-class education; to have fulfilling careers in any industry; to be treated fairly and paid equally for their work; and to have no limits on their dreams. That is what I want for women everywhere.