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Roe at 45: Feministing’s Best Writing on Our Reproductive Rights

Hell yes: it’s Roe’s 45th anniversary, baby! 

We have a lot to celebrate today—but forty five years later, we’re still fighting to expand abortion access and protect reproductive freedom from right-wing attacks. Here’s some of our favorite writing on the site about abortion and reproductive justice.

Maya writes about the stories of the heroic doctors who started providing abortions before Roe v. Wade — and what could happen if we lose it.

Awful stories of unsafe pre-Roe abortions are a powerful reminder of the truth — a verifiable reality, despite the anti-choice movement’s instance otherwise — that, regardless of its legality, people will go to great, dangerous lengths to end an unwanted pregnancy. And many of the doctors voice concerns that post-Roe generations, with no memory of a time when abortion was illegal, have lost a visceral sense of that truth.

Last year, mainstream Democrats and major left-wing leaders alike threatened to sell out reproductive rights. But there’s no way to achieve economic justice without abortion access:

Nearly 70 percent of women who obtain abortions live below 200% of the federal poverty line, often because they cannot afford to care for a (or another) child. As Michelle Kinsey Bruns points out, abortion has empowered her to escape “a life of hereditary poverty.” She’s not alone. The landmark “Turnaway Study” tracked women across 21 states who sought but were denied abortion care; researchers found that “women who carried an unwanted pregnancy to term are three times more likely than women who receive an abortion to be below the poverty level two years later.”

Without the ability to control when they become parents, women can’t control their economic futures. There’s no economic justice without abortion access — unless you only care about people who can’t become pregnant.

The Hyde Amendment, a ban on federal funding for abortion, has made abortion access less of a right in America than a privilege for those who can afford it. Maya explains:

Abortion does not just happen. Unlike the right to free speech or to assembly or to worship, the government cannot protect the right to choose simply by getting out of the way. Exercising this particular right requires paying for a pretty expensive medical procedure. And as long as that procedure is excluded from coverage under federally-funded healthcare programs, it’s a right that is meaningless to millions of women.

The fight isn’t just at home: Juliana explains on how American anti-choice activists are funding the criminalization of abortion in South America:

The Guardian reports that Virginia-based non-profit Human Life International has been financing Sí a la Vida since 2000, just a few years after they successfully pushed for the full criminalization of abortion in El Salvador. Human Life International’s mission is to “provide training and tools needed to combat the Culture of Death and build a Culture of Life” – aka spreading the horrific criminalization of pregnant people. In a 2001 article titled “How to Export Pro-Life Activism” the real life inspiration for the Handmaid’s Tale then-president of Human Life International talks about the pharmaceutical industry’s supposed attack on fertility, why contraception is the same as abortion, and details HLI’s work to get El Salvador’s ban on abortion written into the country’s constitution.

I love Alexandra’s reflection on a powerful Supreme Court brief from 113 women attorneys in a key abortion access case:

The signatories are public defenders and corporate lawyers and anti-discrimination advocates and retired judges. The one thing they all have in common? Each has had an abortion, and attributes her professional success to access. As one movingly wrote, “To the world, I am an attorney who had an abortion, and, to myself, I am an attorney because I had an abortion.”

And all of this, Quita reminds us, means abortion access organizations in the South need your support more than ever.

It is imperative that we financially support community-based clinics and abortion funds, especially those that are located in the South. Independent abortion clinics perform 60 to 80 percent of abortions in the U.S., according to Guttmacher. With the increased wave of anti-abortion legislation, it is these providers who are bearing the brunt of decreased abortion access, particularly across the South. And with the lack of bufferzones – legally protected sidewalks and areas around abortion clinics from protestors – it is also critical to support grassroots organizations with clinic escort programs, that are literally putting their bodies between emboldened anti-choice advocates and people seeking abortion care.

As we continue the fight to make Roe’s promise a reality, consider supporting the National Network of Abortion Funds, which helps low-income women pay for abortion, and Jane’s Due Process, which helps Texas teens access abortion in one of the most hostile legal regimes in the country, here and here. Is there a reproductive rights campaign you’re supporting? Let us know!

Image credit: Flickr

Sejal Singh is a columnist at Feministing, where she writes about educational equity, labor, and reproductive justice. Sejal is a Policy and Advocacy Coordinator for Know Your IX, a national campaign to end gender-based violence in schools, where she has led several state and federal campaigns for student survivors' civil rights. In the past, Sejal led LGBT rights campaigns for the Center for American Progress. Today, she is a student at Harvard Law School and a frequent speaker on LGBTQ rights and civil rights in schools.

Sejal Singh is a law student and columnist at Feministing, writing about educational equity, labor, and reproductive justice.

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