Daring to Remember: Tell Us Your Story of Life Before Roe

Ms. first ran the devastating photo of Gerri Santoro in 1973. On the heels of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, we remembered Gerri and the women like her who had died from unsafe, illegal abortions. We declared: “Never Again.” The photo quickly became a rallying cry, a stark reminder of what is at stake in the fight for legal abortion access. At the 2004 March for Women’s Lives, Joannie Santoro-Griffin reflected on her mother’s death, noting that the photo “symbolizes every women who died without choice.”

We ran the photo again in 2016, after the election of Donald Trump—predicting that in the weeks, months and years to come, abortion access would become a battleground more hard-fought than ever. Unfortunately, we were right.

With the news of Justice Kennedy’s imminent retirement from the Supreme Court, we must rise up to demand that the makeup of the Supreme Court not put a woman’s right to abortion where Vice President Mike Pence wishes it was: “the ash heap of history.” For too many women of my generation, a time before Roe feels like ancient history—but now, that history looms dangerously in the future. 45 years after Roe, we’re once again in the fight of our lives.

We must demand that women have bodily autonomy and control over their destinies. We must remind lawmakers that a majority of Americans support safe and legal abortion. We must remind the country what a nation without any safe, legal abortion access looks like. We must remind our lawmakers what women’s lives without abortion access look like—and the devastating ways in which an end to abortion access is an end to our freedom.

We must bring back to life the stories of women like Gerri, who died because they had no choice, and the thousands of women like her whose lives were forever altered because they didn’t, either. “She was just one of countless women who died in this lonely and desperate way,” Gerri’s daughter said to the crowd in 2004. “They were all someone’s sister, daughter, mother or friend.”

Ms. is collecting stories from women who had abortions before Roe, or whose lives were forever changed because they could not—or the stories of those who didn’t survive to tell their own. We also want to amplify stories from today’s abortion landscape—stories of women who find themselves in abortion deserts because clinics are shuttering under TRAP laws or because of anti-abortion violence, or stories of women crossing state and international borders just to take control over their futures.

These may not be our own stories. They may be the stories whispered to us by our old classmates, by our aunts and cousins. They may be the stories our families and neighbors have dared us to never tell. They may be the stories of our grandmothers, sisters, daughters, mothers and friends.

For too long, these stories have gone untold or been forgotten. Beginning today, we are daring to tell them.

We are daring to remember.

You can submit your story online here. Stories submitted may be posted online or in the magazine. Submissions can be short—one or three paragraphs—or full-length essays. We will share as many as we can, and we will continue to share them until we know that Roe is safe.

Carmen Rios is the Digital Editor at Ms. and Contributing Editor and Co-Founder of Argot Magazine; her work has also appeared at BuzzFeed, Bitch, Mic, MEL, Everyday Feminism and Autostraddle, where she was previously Community Director and Feminism Editor. Like everyone else in LA, she once had a podcast; unlike everyone else, she stays pretty zen in traffic. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.

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