40 years ago this week, Roe vs. Wade was made into law and forever changed the lives of women who wished to fight the tyranny of enforced birth.
Like most wars for civil rights, Roe vs. Wade was not won on January 22, 1973. It was begun. And now it is slowly being lost, state by state, and with each election that chips away at a woman’s right to end an early pregnancy.
We are engaged in a great war, and we are losing.
I know that many these days would rather read about sex, or kittens or naked people doing yoga. But this is important. Give me just a minute of your time and I will keep it short and to the point.
Ever since the landmark law passed allowing that a woman’s ‘right to privacy’ was a “fundamental right” in the first two trimesters of pregnancy, the law has been steadily under attack. States govern the terms, and so it seems do the religious groups and political parties.
Look at the facts: According to an article in Time Magazine, 40 states have curtailed access to abortion by requiring parental notification, waiting periods, counseling with graphic videos and restricting access to Medicaid funds. In 2011, there were 92 abortion-restricting provisions passed by states. Ninety two!
Surprised? Don’t be. Abortion clinics have been fire-bombed, doctors have been shot and nurses are threatened. A woman is more likely to sustain injury from walking into a clinic than from getting the procedure.
By the way, our country has real problems these days. The U.S. debt rating may be lowered, we are fighting a war on poverty, the middle class is barely surviving, and there are almost no jobs for college graduates. The planet is being killed by pollution and waste, and so are its inhabitants. From the world’s anxiety grows a terrorist threat that has spread like a virus.
We can barely take care of ourselves, and yet, the Republican Party would rather concern itself with whatever is going on inside my uterus than fix the economy.
Listen up Republicans: There is nothing of national concern going on in my uterus! In fact, really, nothing is going on in there at all.
One reason we are losing this war is that today’s young adult has no memory of the back-alley abortions. When I came of age, my mother lectured me relentlessly on how she didn’t want me to die on a table with a hanger inside me. Too graphic? Well that’s how it was.
The feminists who fought this battle are gone. Rush Limbaugh called them “Feminazis,” and the stigma has stuck. Today, articles on sex and kittens and Playboy Yoga get thousands more reads on the internet than anything to do with reproductive and civil rights.
This subject isn’t sexy; in fact it is the anti-sexy. And it is not just a “women’s issue,” because last I checked it’s pretty damn hard to get pregnant all by yourself.
This week, on the anniversary of Roe v Wade, I ask that you talk to your children, friends and even co-workers to bring this issue once again into the light. If we can bring it out of the shadows, away from the stigma, it can be supported by the good and decent citizens of the United States.
It is the law people, but if it’s going to stay that way we will first need to win the war.
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Editor: Kate Bartolotta