We Must Stand Up to Efforts to Roll Back Abortion Rights
Making abortion illegal would be a giant step backward for the country
January 22, 2013
Making abortion illegal would be a giant step backward for the country. Outlawing abortion would undermine women's health, dignity, privacy, and equality. Abortion is a deeply personal decision that should be left to women and their healthcare providers. Government interference in this decision is not what Americans want.
This week, we celebrate the election of a pro-choice president and the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, a landmark decision that protected women's health by putting an end to the days when, in many states, a woman had to risk her life to end an unintended pregnancy. Returning to those days would not mean women would stop needing and having abortions; it would simply put safe abortions out of reach. Instead of making abortion illegal, we must ensure that all women can access the reproductive healthcare they need without government intrusion—and work together to reduce unintended pregnancies by making evidence-based sex education programs and affordable contraception available to all.
Roe v. Wade was a huge advance for women's health, but today it is a fragile victory, under relentless attack by those who would turn back the clock on women's health and rights. In the last election, we heard a lot from opponents of Roe, from Todd Akins's horrifying comments about "legitimate rape" to Richard Mourdock's deeply offensive pronouncement that a pregnancy resulting from rape is "something that God intended to happen." Voters repudiated them. Similarly, Americans must reject their ultimate goal, which is to outlaw abortion.
But opponents have done a lot to make abortion care inaccessible, and that must end. We must reject their efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and Title X family planning, to treat contraception differently than other preventive services under the Affordable Care Act, and to make abortion care unavailable to young, rural, and low-income women. We must reject their efforts to interfere in the relationship between women and their healthcare providers. That means saying "no" to laws that require doctors to give women medically inaccurate information, "no" to laws that delay care and require women to have medically unnecessary ultrasounds and counseling before they can access abortion care, and "no" to laws that let employers deny women access to health services based on the employer's beliefs.
Abortion must remain legal, and women must have access to the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion care.