This week marked the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade (January 22, to be exact), an event that has special significance in the wake of inaugurating a pro-choice president. Obama re-emphasized his commitment to choice by releasing a statement that underlined the values that are common to both sides of this contentious issue together.
Roe v. Wade, he said, “stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters.”
And: “no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make.”
In honor of those 36 years, it’s also worth remembering, even for a moment, what the Roe v. Wade stakes are. In 2006, Alan wrote a personal piece describing how the Roe decision had shaped the world he grew up in, and—if overturned—how it might shape the world his daughter and her peers grew up in. Hint: It has a lot to do with injustice and inequity. An excerpt:
Reversing Roe would create in many red states a two-tier system of reproductive rights. The day after Roe, the red-blue map of US presidential elections would begin turning into a hazard map for low-income women. (USA Today recently drew such a map.) Daughters of fortunate families would travel to blue states to get abortions. Daughters of unfortunate families would risk abortions from clandestine providers close to home, endangering their lives….
Or—and this outcome might be just as tragic—they’d bear children they resented and never wanted in the first place. Unwanted births bring a chain of disheartening consequences: more infant deaths, more child abuse and neglect, more school failure, more children in foster care and juvenile courts. And more women who blame themselves for all of these ills.
The long-term implications of this reproductive schism would be grave for unfortunate and fortunate alike. My sister and I have lived in a country that guaranteed women—as a fundamental, American right—that they alone would choose whether to carry early pregnancies to term. This inalienable guarantee has been part of the broad foundation of legal and political equality that all Americans knew they stood upon: the equal entitlement to freedom that has always defined Americans’ understanding of themselves as a people.
Overturning Roe would degrade women’s sovereignty over their own bodies. It would demote reproductive choice from a right to a privilege—a privilege distributed, like others, on the basis of money. Downgrading reproductive choices in this way—lumping them in with other class-based commodities of American life such as higher education, medical care, and housing—would substantially erode Americans’ sense of equality.
And thus, even if my daughter and her friends suffer little loss of choice themselves, overturning Roe would nonetheless cost them something of surpassing value. It would deny them the sense that they live in a country that stands up for all women. It would rob them of another reason to believe that as Americans, we’re not just a collection of workers and consumers who happen to share a currency, we’re a nation—we’re all in this life together.
You can read the whole essay (the director’s cut) here.
Also, see Sightline’s population indicator (soon to be updated in the Cascadia Scorecard).
So, in fact, abortion eliminates future criminals before they can take a breath.
All the rhetoric about “choice” belies the fact that an innocent human life is snuffed out. To me, choice is the initial decision to have sex – beyond that, it’s consequence of your own actions that you must take responsibility for. As to the”unwanted” babies – the line of couples waiting for adoptions is pretty long!
Really Tom? A pretty long line of couples? Are you sure? Why, then, do we have thousands of kids languishing in the state foster care systems throughout Cascadia this very day? Why are there hundreds of thousands around the country? I have several adopted members of my family, but I also know that people like my aunt and uncle, and my foster brother and his wife, are actually dishearteningly rare.And sure, it’s easy to moralize about killing babies when you don’t have to deal with these unwanted and unloved kids – constant reminders to their mothers of the most horrible time in her life. It’s easy to say that the initial decision to have sex is a choice a woman has, but thousands are victims of rape, incest, abuse, and coercion every day. It’s easy to say how promiscuous and evil these women are who make the choice to terminate their pregnancy, but I’m willing to bet you’ve never cradled a woman in your arms and supported her in trying to decide what is best for her, the life slowly forming in her body, and the lives that she will eventually bring into this world.No Tom, I don’t think you really think about any of that. If you stepped out of your own tiny little world and actually decided to understand the choices that you and I will never have to make, you might have a bit more insight into what actually constitutes a “choice” and maybe even have the slightest clue where “responsibility” really starts.
And Tom when sex is not by choice, then what? Mine is a case in point.My mother made me stop taking the pill back in 1973 because of her health concerns for me. Then my ex-Black boyfriend forced me to have unprotected sex with him. I am white…I protested and he was a lot bigger than me.He was married and had no interest in me or the child…with much deliberation I was granted an abortion when the psychologist found out that I was suffering from deep depression. My parents warned me that it would be a decision I would regret all my life and indeed even as I look at Obama, I wonder what my child would have been given the right to live!Further the blood guilt and denial finally had to be addressed in my life. Most certainly I should never have been gong down the path that led me to that moment, and I some how would like to have had had a clear choice that the one I made, certainly in those days, it ws very hard to have a child of that combination. Most of all I regret that my faith was weak and I did not turn to the Lord for help. There are no clear answers and certainly we will be taking a terrible step if we again allow the wholesale termination of innocent lives!
I am saddened when Roe v. Wade is linked to population control. Frankly, Row v. Wade discussions do not belong on Sightline’s radar since, on the whole, there are far more effective and less expensive methods of population control. Abstinence programs, a rigorous sex-education system, and a comprehensive adoption support system would be a far less brutal way to control population.I’m not a big fan of anti-abortion laws so I would grudgingly say I’m pro-choice. But I’d prefer to read about it on NARAL’s web site, not Sightline’s.
Vi and Young – I don’t know who you are, but you’ve both taken my breath away. I honor you for your insight, strength, compassion, and wisdom. Knowing that there are honest, compassionate people like you out there is what gives me hope. May blessings be upon you.
Just to clarify, Sightline has written a lot about the importance of prevention in ensuring that every child is wanted. The best solutions for preventing unwanted births include comprehensive sex education, guaranteeing universal access to affordable reproductive health services and contraceptive coverage, including over-the-counter emergency contraception. And the good news is that preventing unwanted births has all kinds of compounding benefits, including reducing the need for abortions. But a focus on prevention doesn’t cancel the need for access to safe, legal abortion services, something which the Roe decision made possible. When it comes to policy, it’s important to make sure abortion is less necessary—not more dangerous.