Pro-choice advocates marked the 30th anniversary of Roe v Wade today with events that included a student leadership conference sponsored by the Feminist Majority Foundation. The Never Go Back conference drew 400 students from 33 states and DC to the nation’s capitol in support of abortion rights. Planned Parenthood held a rally at the Supreme Court today that drew pro-choice supporters as well as anti-abortion counter-protesters. This evening, the National Organization for Women will hold a candlelight vigil at the Supreme Court in support of abortion rights. “We will remember the lives lost or destroyed by dangerous illegal abortion and rededicate ourselves to protecting reproductive rights for future generations,” said NOW President Kim Gandy in a news release. The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice will hold an interfaith service supporting a woman's right to choose tonight as well.
Meanwhile, the threats to abortion rights were made clear as abortion rights opponents participated in a “March for Life” beginning at the Washington Monument. President Bush phoned in a message of support for the anti-choice activities from St. Louis, Missouri. Right-wing political leaders in Congress are hoping to pass a number of anti-abortion bills this year, with a Republican majority in both houses of Congress and a supportive President. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) told the Associated Press that “we will pass the first significant pro-life legislation actually limiting abortion in 30 years,” predicting that a ban on so-called “partial-birth” abortion would be passed quickly by Congress.
At the press conference in support of abortion rights this morning, several women testified to the importance of legal and safe abortion. One woman spoke about her mother’s death from an illegal abortion. Angel Foster, president-elect of Medical Students for Choice, told the Christian Science Monitor that her mother had a pre-Roe abortion, and that “that experience was really traumatic for her—not the abortion itself, but what she had to do to get it.” Pro-choice advocates worry that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, women will be forced to return to the days when abortions were dangerous. Worldwide, 14 percent of the annual 500,000 maternal deaths are due to unsafe abortions, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
In the 30 years since Roe v. Wade was decided, the percentage of counties without abortion providers has increased, from 84 percent in 1973 to 87 percent today. The percentage of Americans today who think the Supreme Court decision was a good thing for the country is 53 percent. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reports that 62 percent of Americans do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. Among various subsets of the population, white evangelical Protestants are the only group in which a majority (55 percent) favor overturning Roe.
Media Resources: Associated Press 1/20/03; Washington Post 1/22/03; Christian Science Monitor 1/22/03; Gallup 1/20/03; NOW 1/17/03; Pew Center 1/16/03; Feminist Majority Foundation
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .