Despite Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion at the federal level, the restrictions enacted in the states—from requiring (and denying) admitting privileges for doctors; constraints in insurance coverage; mandatory waiting periods; erroneous restrictions on clinics forcing them to close their doors and more—is where the power over reproductive rights has long resided.
I was born in 1974, nearly 18 months to the day after Roe. The women of my generation, along with the following generation, have been shaped by access to legal abortion and the subsequent guarantee of full personhood. The birth control pill, first approved by the FDA in 1960, promised reproductive autonomy, but abortion rights helped make it true.
As we approach the overturning of Roe, the women of Generation Roe must continue to speak out and join forces with other generations of activists to ensure we will not be the only ones to have experienced full personhood, unencumbered by laws seeking to define all women as mothers whose interests are subsumed by their children, born and unborn.
As Roe v. Wade hangs by a thread, looking back at feminist history can provide a well-reasoned basis for political action and pro-choice movements.
In a few short months, we face the likelihood the Supreme Court will overturn Roe. Already, 2021 was the worst year for abortion rights in half a century. In Texas, abortion has already been virtually outlawed for almost five months. And now the Supreme Court has issued yet another decision that will ensure S.B. 8 will remain the law in Texas for months to come.
The silver lining of this fraught era for reproductive rights seems to be that a large swath of Americans who oppose overturning Roe v. Wade will be motivated to vote in the midterm elections this fall. Polls show that abortion is increasingly becoming a decisive factor for voters—particularly young women voters.
This year, Roe Day doesn’t quite feel like a celebration. To mark the occasion and with our eyes on the future, Ms. asked abortion rights supporters in the House of Representatives to share what the anniversary of Roe means this year in particular, how they see their role in the larger fight for abortion rights, how Congress can act as a counterbalance to a Supreme Court prepared to overturn Roe, and what they wish they could tell anti-abortion lawmakers standing in their way.
The Supreme Court has once again lurched to the right, and reproductive rights are in danger.
Given the dire circumstances, Ms. is once again relaunching its “We Have Had Abortions” petition, with the encouragement and support of some of the original 1972 signers—including Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, the author of the original “We Have Had Abortions” article that appeared in Ms.
“While the Supreme Court may, because of the machinations of the one party, eviscerate Roe v. Wade, now is not the time to give up,” said Diamonstein-Spielvogel.
On November 6, 2003, President Bush signed what he called a “partial birth abortion ban,” prohibiting doctors from committing an “overt act” designed to kill a partially delivered fetus. One of the unintended consequences of this new law is that it put people in my position, with a fetus already dead, in a technical limbo.
We told our doctor we had chosen a dilation and evacuation. But I didn’t realize that pressures extending all the way to the boardrooms of hospitals, administrative sessions at medical schools and committee hearing in Congress, were going to deepen and expand my sorrow and pain.
In its 1972 preview issue, Ms. magazine ran a bold petition in which 53 well-known U.S. women declared that they had undergone abortions—despite laws in most states rendering the procedure illegal. We know it is time again.
Today in Texas, abortion has been outlawed for the vast majority of women and girls. And in a few short months, the Supreme Court is likely to rule in a case that is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and will impact abortion access nationwide.
Add your name to the petition.
A range of telemedicine abortion providers are springing up in the U.S. in response to the removal of FDA restrictions on the abortion pill mifepristone—like Cindy Adam and Lauren Dubey, nurse practitioners and owners of Choix, a virtual clinic offering asynchronous telemedicine abortion services to people in California, Colorado and Illinois.
“It feels really cool that I can do this on a day-to-day basis,” Dubey said. “Cindy and I are at the forefront of telemedicine abortion, teaching other people how to do it, helping more people to do it and exposing the world to this new type of care. It is incredibly fulfilling, not just being an abortion provider and not just doing it via telehealth, but being at the forefront of abortion care in a new way.”
For centuries under common law, a daughter or a wife was the property of the family father or husband or, upon his death, the closest relative with a penis. Whatever was theirs was his, but most importantly the family patriarch oversaw her most valuable asset: her womb. In earliest medical thought, a womb was fertile ground in need of guarding and fences to make property rights clearer, and she to be plowed and planted with seed, quite literally semen.
We thought such laws and cultural metaphors were behind us. But now the cowboys of Texas have put a bounty on women’s wombs. The stakes are women’s civil rights as citizens, surely, but also financial ones.