Tomorrow is the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision recognizing a woman’s constitutional right to legal abortion care. As we honor this milestone, we thank those whose courage and determination made Roe possible, and we pause to remember the many women who died from illegal abortions and all those who have been killed or injured in the course of providing the full range of reproductive health care to women.
This anniversary takes place at a critical time for the women of this country. Since last November’s election, the radical right has paraded itself in new clothes. After a campaign season with promises to put the economy first, the new speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-Ohio), just yesterday clarified that further abortion funding restrictions are of “highest” priority for Republicans, and a jobs package will come later.
With that statement, Republicans in the House introduced the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 3). This dangerous bill goes far beyond making permanent the deeply unjust Hyde Amendment, which currently bars federal funding for abortion care. It would drastically reduce access to medically necessary emergency abortions at state and local public hospitals; impose tax penalties on individuals and businesses using private health care plans; and further whittle exemptions for rape, incest and health.
The late Henry Hyde, author of the infamous Hyde Amendment, admitted that he wanted to prevent all women from obtaining abortions, but the only ones he had real power over were poor women, so that’s who he went after. Can you believe John Boehner has called this man a hero?
Legislators from the radical right are eager to make this moment a turning point in their crusade to outlaw abortion care. We cannot let them. We cannot let them because abortion is a constitutional right. And we cannot let them because they won’t stop there. I promise that if we let them overturn Roe, they will come for contraception next.
But we outnumber them, and if this anniversary tells us anything, it’s that women can, must and will retain control over their bodies and their lives. Abortion is neither tragic nor trivial. Each woman’s story is different, and politicians do not have a right to make unilateral decisions for all women on the basis of their own religious beliefs.
Safe, legal and accessible abortion is a necessary condition for achieving women’s full equality. That is why we work together and why we refuse to give up.