40 years after Roe, we must celebrate and push for change

22 Jan

40 years ago in a momentous Supreme Court victory abortion became legal in the US. Politicians were changed by the champions of the feminist movement. They agreed that all people deserve to plan families and space their pregnancies and that the days of back alley abortions and coat hangers were over. No longer would anyone have to risk their lives to end and unwanted pregnancy.

That was the dream, but it is not the reality. There is no question that Roe made history and laid the foundation for the work we do in abortion access today. But we also know that it didn’t ensure complete accessibility and affordability of care. Despite the passing of Roe in 1973, the Hyde Amendment, prohibiting federal Medicaid dollars from covering abortion, was passed only three years later in 1976 and set the stage for the many abortion restrictions that have followed.

Every person deserves to be able to make the best decisions for themselves and for their families, but abortion coverage restrictions can make that difficult or even impossible. Abortion fund volunteers talk to people unable to afford abortion care every single day. People without insurance coverage of abortion have to struggle, some by putting off paying bills, rent, or even risking their personal safety to come up with the money for an abortion. There is a big difference between making abortion legal and making it accessible.

Our feminist leaders spoke up 40 years ago to legalize abortion and made significant change. As feminists, reproductive justice activists, families, and communities, must speak up again, and shout until the current administration hears us. To continue to let people struggle to afford abortion care, to make it impossible for our friends and communities to access health services, is unconscionable. Sign the petition now and tell President Obama that we are standing strong in support of comprehensive reproductive health care access and abortion coverage for all people, not just those who can afford it.

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