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on the radar: We Had Abortions

We Had Abortions
Join in a campaign for honesty and freedom.

Click here to sign the petition or to make a contribution.

Click here to help us spread the word.

In its 1972 debut issue, Ms. magazine ran a bold petition in which 53 well-known U.S. women declared that they had undergone abortions—despite state laws rendering the procedure illegal. These women were following the example of a 1971 manifesto signed by 343 prominent French women, who also declared they had abortions.

Even then, to many it seemed absurd that the government could deny a woman sovereignty over her own body. It is even more absurd in 2006 to learn that an abortion ban has passed into law in South Dakota. The South Dakota ban has been stayed because an initiative to remove this ban has been placed on the state’s November ballot. Whatever happens in South Dakota, 17 states now have trigger laws or pre-Roe bans that will ban abortion if the Supreme Court were to reverse Roe v. Wade.A myriad of restrictions already limit access to abortion in the U.S. for poor women, young women, and women in the military. We know it is time again for women of conscience to stand up and speak truth to power.

At the time of the original Ms. petition, illegal abortions were causing untold suffering in the United States, especially for poor women who had to resort to unsafe self-induced or back-alley abortions. Today, in the developing nations each year, approximately 70,000 women and girls die from botched and unsafe abortions and another 500,000 maternal deaths occur—most of this suffering and loss could be prevented. U.S. international family planning policies contribute to this death toll: first, by conditioning its aid on a global gag rule that prevents medical workers from giving even information on abortion; second, by withholding or providing inadequate funds; and finally, by funding abstinence-only education.

We are now starting a new petition, beginning with the names of some of the original 1972 signers. They signed “to save lives and to spare other women the pain of socially imposed guilt.” Their purpose was “to repeal archaic and inhuman [anti-abortion] laws.”

We recognize that, still, not every woman will be able to sign today—33 years after Roe—even though abortion is a very common, necessary and important procedure for millions of women in the U.S. But if a multitude of women would step forward publicly—and more and more would continue to join them—we would change the public debate.

We know that women who have had abortions have spoken out many times during the last 33 years … and millions of women and men have marched in countless rallies and demonstrations.

It is time to speak out again– in even larger numbers —and to make politicians face their neighbors, influential movers and shakers, and yes, their family members. We cannot, must not—for U.S. women and the women of the world—lose the right to safe, legal, and accessible abortion or access to birth control. Just as in 1972, Ms. will send the signed petitions to the White House, members of Congress and state legislators. We will also place the petition online. And we ask signers to make a contribution so Ms. can promote the petition and provide needed funds to fight abortion bans and support targeted abortion providers, such as the sole remaining women’s clinic in Mississippi.

Your name and your voice will make a difference.