February 6, 2002
I was glad to see Sarah Meedel’s Feb. 5 article highlighting the 29th anniversary of the *Roe V. Wade decision. I think that the impact of the very real possibility that *Roe v. Wade might be overturned in our generation is not being fully realized.
Prior to the Roe v. Wade decision on Jan. 22, 1973, some 1.2 million women resorted to illegal abortions annually, and thousands of those women died from botched, illegal abortions each year. In the past 25 years, the Supreme Court has ruled on a number of cases that have severally restricted full access to safe, legal abortion and family planning. This includes not only denying the federal use of funds for performing abortions, but also for counseling for women who have received abortions and for educational family planning programs. There are two impacts of this. First, these laws disproportionately affect young women, women of color, and low-income women and force an untold number of women to seek out dangerous back alley abortions each year. Second, in 2000, one in five abortion clinics experienced some form of severe violence, including arsons, bombings, blockades, invasions, death threats, stalking, and murder at the hands of anti-abortion extremists. Without federal funds, these centers struggle to provide both security and reproductive and gynecological services to women and, consequently, shut down. This greatly limits women’s access to reproductive health care.
Since Bush’s election, he has taken more actions to deprive women of reproductive freedom. Meedel already mentioned his statements to the March for Life organization. More subtly, Bush has done things like drastically reduced federal funding for organizations that may support abortion, like Planned Parenthood, and has made major increases to federal funding for “abstinence only” programs — many of which are religiously based. Just last week, Bush decided to extend government-funded health insurance to fetuses. While prenatal care is important, this could move us towards criminalizing abortion. Are we ready as a society to limit women’s choices to clothes hangers?
I am not writing this letter to aggregate the many people who are certain to disagree with me. However, for those of you who do support a woman’s right to choose, we must not forget the imminent threat to our freedom and our lives. Join the fight to save *Roe v. Wade and safe, legal, accessible abortion by joining UNO’s Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.