“To many American women and men it seems absurd, in this allegedly enlightened age, that we should still be arguing for a simple principle: that a woman has the right to sovereignty over her own body.”
The declaration by 53 prominent American women in the historic preview issue of Ms. came with a simple headline: “We Have Had Abortions.”
In an impassioned plea to Ms. readers, encouraging them to send response cards in support of legalizing abortion to the offices of the magazine, Barbaralee D. Diamonstein called out the inherent misogyny of laws governing reproductive rights in the centuries before Roe.
“There are tragically few places in the country where a woman can obtain an abortion without the expense and deception of conforming to inhumane laws, or the expense and physical danger of going outside the law,” she explained. “This has caused untold suffering, especially on the part of poor women who must resort to self-induced or butchered abortions.”
Today, abortion is a common medical procedure with overwhelming public support. At least one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime, and there is no single state in the country where a majority of residents oppose a woman’s legal right to abortion.
Yet, in the wake of laws being introduced and passed in state legislatures across the country banning abortion and criminalizing women and their healthcare providers, the legendary declaration by leading feminists in 1972 in our pages remains resonant.
“Our purpose is not to alienate or to ask for sympathy,” Diamonstein wrote in 1972, “but to repeal archaic and inhumane laws.” 47 years later, that mission is as urgent as ever.
In 2006, we re-launched the “We Had Abortions” campaign, garnering thousands of responses from women nationwide. Today, we’re doing the same.
We’re launching a modern #WeHaveHadAbortions movement, and you can join us with the click of a button. Sign the declaration. (We’ll stay in touch, alerting you about opportunities to take action for reproductive justice.) Share your story with the #WeHadAbortions hashtag. And consider giving a donation to Ms. to fuel our rebellious reporting from the front lines of the abortion wars.
We are the majority—and we will stand together in opposition to attempts to roll back our progress and seize control of our lives.