Thursday, January 22, 2009

Celebrating Roe v. Wade

January 22, 2009 marks the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning criminal bans on abortion. Justice Harry Blackmun wrote the 7-2 majority decision finding that the 14th Amendment's guarantees of personal liberty and previous decisions protecting privacy in family matters includes a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy.

This groundbreaking decision fundamentally altered the state of reproductive rights in America. Women no longer need to risk their lives in order to have control over their futures, nor are they forced to remain silent on life-changing decisions for fear of legal penalty.

On this historical day, a giant leap was made towards granting women their full rights as human beings. Despite this major victory, we must not assume that the struggle for reproductive freedom is over. Even though abortion is legal, real-life access to abortions is still limited. States have passed mandatory waiting periods, imposed restrictions on teenage women’s access to abortion, targeted abortion providers with medically unnecessary restrictions, and attacked public funding for medically necessary abortion care. We cannot allow past victories to blind us from seeing that there is still much to be done before every woman, no matter where she lives or what her income is, can have an equal say in deciding whether or not she is ready to become a mother.

We honor advocates, past and present, who have fought to ensure that women have a voice in deciding their reproductive future. As an issue that is often reduced to political rhetoric, it is important to acknowledge how individual autonomy in making personal decisions has greatly influenced the lives of women. Please share your story of how this decision impacted your life, or the lives of those you love.

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