22 January 2003

Roe vs. Wade

Today is the thirtieth anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion. I've read several news stories about this over the past week, many opining how women of my generation take their reproductive freedoms for granted. Apparently, my peers do not even recognize the coat hanger as something more than just a hanger--a symbol of the dangers of illegal abortion.

I don't take my reproductive freedoms for granted. And, I know what a coat hanger means when I see it on a button or a banner. And I know, when I look at the Bush White House, that the old white guys running the country are keenly interested in usurping my body. They wish to take away my right to choose to terminate a pregnancy. Not only that, they are interested in taking away my right to birth control.

You think I am exaggerating? Bush himself has suggested removing birth control from the list of drugs covered by the health insurance federal workers get. He has nominated men to FDA boards that believe PMS can be cured by prayer and who refuse birth control to unmarried women. And it gets worse. The Bush administration wants legislation that will allow public hospitals to refuse access to the morning-after pill, even for rape victims. On top of that, the CDC was forced by the administration to remove information about condoms from its website. The abstinence-only message paraded by Bush and his cronies denies young women access to life-saving and pregnancy-preventing information both at school and on the web.

Yes, ladies, take a good look around at the rights and freedoms we currently enjoy to make medical decisions about our bodies, because every indication shows they are on their way out. It will start with overturning Roe vs. Wade. And it will continue to Griswold vs. Connecticut, which legalized birth control. The issue here isn't life--it's women's rights as citizens of this country and as human beings. And women won't realize it until their rights are gone.

If you think I am being alarmist, fine. I would love to be wrong. But look at the actions of this administration carefully. Look at Bush's public statements. Look at the policies he has pursued both here and abroad. You'll see a steady degradation of women's rights, across the board.

Read Ellen Goodman's column in the Washington Post today. I think it is the most moving tribute to Roe I've seen. But it also shows how our rights have been steadily eroded since 1973. And it shows how much we have to lose.


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