Many happy returns of the day, Roe!

Roe v Wade newspaper headline
From the decision:

“State criminal abortion laws, like those involved here, that except from criminality only a life-saving procedure on the mother’s behalf without regard to the stage of her pregnancy and other interests involved violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman’s qualified right to terminate her pregnancy.”

The year was 1971, and the date was December 13th. Roe v. Wade was argued before the Supreme Court of the United States, and on January 22nd on 1973, 39 years ago, the Court ruled to protect a woman’s right to access an abortion.

To honor that legacy, the Silver Ribbon Campaign, MoveOn, and over 70 other reproductive justice, reproductive rights, and reproductive health groups are convening an online mass mobilization.  The National March for Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice is happening so that we can let our elected officials know that Americans trust women to make their own decisions about their bodies and their lives. Click here to join the march!

Today, as we think about the long history of Roe in our country, we would be remiss not to shout from the rooftops that we have a two-tiered system of abortion access in the US.

When abortion was legalized in 1973, virtually all women had the ability to obtain an abortion. The Medicaid program, which covers health care for low-income people in the U.S., covered abortion just as it did other medical procedures.

But in 1977, Congress passed the Hyde Amendment, which banned Medicaid coverage of abortion. Abortion is the only medical procedure that has ever been banned from Medicaid. Most private insurance plans cover abortion. So it’s people who rely on Medicaid (and also: people who are federal employees or get their health care through a federal employee, people who get their health care through Indian Health Services and people serving in the military and those who get their health care through the military) are the ones who have health insurance that does not cover abortion.

This means that they must pay out-of-pocket for a procedure ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars. This means that they often are in the position of forgoing food, or paying bills or childcare in order to get their abortion procedure.

So if you are fortunate enough to have health insurance in the US, you are likely to be covered for the full range of medical care should you have an unplanned pregnancy (for now anyway). If you happen to be a low-income person, and/or you depend on the US government for your health care, you’re on your own.

Yesterday, to mark the Anniversary, the President released a statement saying:

“As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right. While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue—no matter what our views, we must stay united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant woman and mothers, reduce the need for abortion, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption. And as we remember this historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.”

Right on. Now how about adding “regardless of  their economic status” to the end of that statement?

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