January is the month when we look back at the old year and into the new. So far 2012 with its news coverage in which a woman’s right to choose has been constantly discussed feels like the very difficult 2011 all over again. Last year the House held more anti-choice votes than in any year since 2000 and states discussed over 160 new provisions related to reproductive health and rights. A number of radical anti-choicers aren’t just opposed to abortion but to birth control and comprehensive sex education, too!
Three topics—insurance coverage of abortion, restriction of abortion after a specific point in gestation and ultrasound requirements—are topping the agenda in several states. “Fully 49% of these new laws seek to restrict access to abortion services, a sharp increase from 2010, when 26% of new laws restricted abortion. The 80 abortion restrictions enacted this year are more than double the previous record of 34 abortion restrictions enacted in 2005—and more than triple the 23 enacted in 2010. All of these new provisions were enacted in just nineteen states.”(Guttmacher Institute)
It’s distressing for me to envision voters in many states enthusiastically listening to speeches calling for the overturning of Roe v Wade. What’s the likely scenario going forward? Will the crowds get even bigger and be more in favor of limiting choice or health care options for women? Will that ideological agenda expand and put reproductive freedom in even greater jeopardy? As supporters of choice and womens’ rights we’ll need to be ever stronger in our dedication to protecting Roe and access to health care.
We must never go back! We have to remember the impact of the Roe decision. “In disallowing many state and federal restrictions on abortion in the United States,the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision prompted a national debate that continues today, about issues including whether and to what extent abortion should be legal, who should decide the legality of abortion, what methods the Supreme Court should use in constitutional adjudication, and what the role should be of religious and moral views in the political sphere. Roe v. Wade reshaped national politics, dividing much of the United States ,while activating grassroots movements on both sides.” (Wikipedia)
Grassroots means you and me and the determined men and women who understand the current threat to reproductive freedom As many as 12 states are now pursuing personhood initiatives, even after the unexpected defeat of a personhood amendment in Mississippi. There are two personhood initiatives now collecting signatures in California.
No matter what anti-choice extremists try to do, we are counting on you to resist, be more outspoken, informed, and active. You are the strength of our pro-woman, pro-family and pro-reproductive healthcare movement. Join with Citizens for Choice to educate, inform, and advocate for choice, healthcare access and comprehensive sex education in 2012!
Sharon O’Hara, Vice President for Programs