We have witnessed a historic week as President Barack Obama became the first African-American U.S. president, and today the celebration continues as we mark 36 years of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that recognized a woman’s constitutional right to abortion.
“Women make up more than half of the voters, and we elected a new president and many new members of Congress because we want change. We elected a president who supports women’s right to full reproductive health care and supports the core protections embodied in Roe,” said NOW President Kim Gandy.
We made history of our own nearly 40 years ago, when NOW members supported laws to make abortion safe and legal nationwide. Then, in 1973, the Supreme Court ended the dangerous scourge of back-alley, illegal abortions that had left countless women maimed or dead from the unsafe procedures that were their only option.
“As we return to national leaders who support women’s rights, we anticipate a stronger backlash and more virulent attack on women’s reproductive freedom,” says Gandy. “But nothing will diminish our determination to restore the rights we’ve lost, including a repeal of the Hyde Amendment, while working to dramatically reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies. That goal is one that opponents of abortion should embrace as well.”
Over the last several years, access to abortion has been restricted or made more difficult by many new state laws. These include requiring expensive ultrasound tests; mandated waiting periods that increase the cost of the procedure; parental involvement requirements; and targeted regulation of abortion clinics that make operations costly and difficult. Other state efforts, such as those designed to establish fetal personhood, are intended to create a test case for the Supreme Court to use in overturning or further limiting Roe.
“We urge President Obama to act quickly to rescind the Global Gag Rule that has unfairly barred lifesaving family planning funds from international organizations. We also urge the swift release of funds designated for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which have been wrongfully withheld by the Bush administration at the cost of thousands of women’s lives,” said Gandy.