Sisterhood Blog

Roe v. Wade at 39

By Sarah Seltzer

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Last year smashed records on reproductive rights — and not good ones. As the year that birthed the GOP “war on women” came to a close, the Guttmacher Institute tallied things up and found that of all the reproductive health and rights-related provisions enacted this year: “Fully 68% of these new provisions—92 in 24 states—restrict access to abortion services, a striking increase from last year, when 26% of new provisions restricted abortion. The 92 new abortion restrictions enacted in 2011 shattered the previous record of 34 adopted in 2005.”

These numbers are stark, vivid proof that the organized, nationwide pushback of women’s rights wasn’t just a media construction.

With so many new and varied restrictions on the books, many women — particularly poor and rural women — simply cannot obtain abortions. This combined with the stunning blow that was the Obama administration’s overruling the FDA on over-the-counter Plan B availability ended the year on a particularly sour note.

As the 39th anniversary of Roe approaches — it’s on January 22 — we need take that time to gather our forces.

I had hoped that 2012 would be the year of fightback, and it may still be, but the fight is still headed the wrong way, most alarmingly evident in the GOP primaries. The the GOP candidates have come out as not only virulently anti-choice, but extremely so — committed to “personhood” beginning at conception. And in the case of Rick Santorum, as Irin Carmon at Salon notably wrote, there’s even opposition to non-procreative sex. This means things like funding for contraception could be at risk in a GOP administration.

In Texas, a judge allowed a particularly heinous and potentially physically invasive mandatory ultrasound law to pass. It has felt for months now that as soon as we catch our breath, another blow like this is delivered — and that there’s no time to regroup and fight back.

The anti-choice community is about to descend on Washington for its annual march. But a number of actions may signal the beginning of a new momentum for the reproductive choice communities. A major counter-rally is being planned for DC and in New York, a march will go visit some so-called “crisis pregnancy centers.”

These kinds of mobilizations, bringing the righteously enraged together, could hopefully be the beginning of a new wave of fighting back, and maybe bringing the war on women to an end.


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