The 39th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade--and We're Still Fighting for Independence

6 years ago

I’m old enough to remember when Roe v. Wade was passed. I was a young woman then, just beginning to have sex, to understand how my body worked and to give myself permission to use birth control without guilt. It’s impossible to say how profoundly this decision affected me, and the elation women in America felt. It meant we were free, no longer victims of our biology. We could live our lives without the fear or threat of an unplanned pregnancy, or a pregnancy that would have killed us. Or becoming a mother because someone else said we had to, we had no choice. It was our fault if we got pregnant, and those were the consequences. Forget about the boy who got you pregnant. He wasn’t even mentioned.

Talk about women’s liberation. There’s a good reason we called it that. Roe v. Wade meant we could plan our lives. Yet, here we are, 39 years later, and abortion is more endangered than ever. And the GOP candidates are jockeying over who hates abortion more. When Rick Santorum recently said that if his daughters were to get raped, and then get pregnant that he would consider those pregnancies a “gift,” my first thought was he really should move to Afghanistan, where his views of women are more compatible. My second thought was I am glad I am not Rick Santorum’s daughter.

So, as much as this disheartens and angers me, the battle to protect a woman’s right to abortion is not over. If anything the rhetoric has gotten even more incendiary and dangerous to women’s autonomy with the so-called “personhood” amendments that would make unscientific claims about when life begins, and as a result make some forms of birth control a crime. Think about that for a second. What if the Pill were illegal? Or the morning-after pill?

Today there was a so-called "March for Life" in Washington in front of the Supreme Court. I love the way the anti-choice movement has co-opted the word "life" for their own ends. Like women don't count. Like women who are pregnant have no claim on the word. They're just vessels for a clump of cells. The anti-choice activists were shouting the same tired old phrases and carrying the same old plastic baby dolls, sporting the same old gruesome photos of alleged aborted fetuses. I noticed a lot of the people in the crowd were men. I will stand up every time for their right to speak. But they do not speak for millions of women (and men), and their voices should never be confused with the truth or morality or the law. Why should a man--or a woman, for that matter--be able to tell me when I can have a baby? To dictate one of the most significant and far-reaching decisions I will ever make in my life? I would never presume to tell anyone that, or to take that right away. Why do they feel entitled to tell me?

I am so tried of this battle. Of saying I'm for abortion, and having people twist it to call me a baby killer. Which is why I can’t let the anniversary of Roe v. Wade go without saying what it meant to me. What it has meant for every woman I know. And to my children, who will never have to wonder if they were born because I was forced to have them. For me, becoming a mother has only made me a stronger advocate of abortion because I've had the humbling experience of being pregnant, giving birth, and raising two children.

So today I'm celebrating--yes, celebrating--the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I'll probably get some hate mail for saying it. Sigh. So be it. If you’d like to say what the Supreme Court decision has meant to you, there’s a wonderful conversation going on at Planned Parenthood’s twitter feed. Don't be afraid to add your voice.

Credit Image: © Pete Marovich/

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