Em-URGE-ing Voices

Your urgent thoughts, urging action

Let’s Pledge to Make Roe Real

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January 21, 2014

Written by Andrew Jenkins, URGE Field Associate

In a few short days we’ll be celebrating a historic moment in the reproductive health and rights movement: the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade.

As a young person, it can be hard to see what it is we’re actually celebrating though. Despite the misguided and pervasive notion that young people don’t get it, we’re facing some of the most strenuous, insurmountable obstacles to reproductive freedom this country has ever seen.

For many young people today, Roe has very little meaning beyond its symbolic gesture.

So how do we mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, when, in 2013, access to safe and affordable abortion is not a reality for so many people in the US? From the Hyde amendment in 1976 to the 203 abortion restrictions states have passed since 2011, the promise of Roe is further away than ever. For the people and communities that need it the most, this promise is nowhere in sight.

What is the promise of Roe? When our movement focuses simply on legal abortion, we lose sight of what access to abortion means for those who seek it. Abortion access means that a mother can care for and provide for the children she already has. Abortion access means that a young person can stay in school and go on to college. It means that each of us can have the family we want when we are physically, emotionally and financially ready.

In order to make Roe real, we have to ensure that the promise of Roe is available to everyone – no matter where they live, how much money they have, where they get their medical insurance, or their age, race, gender or sexual orientation.

Many of us are working everyday to make Roe real in our communities. When we donate to local abortion funds or go with a friend to the clinic or support a friend who is sharing their abortion story for the first time, we make Roe real.

When we tell our governor or state legislators that we oppose abortion restrictions in our state and that we think Medicaid should cover abortion for everyone, no matter what their circumstances, we are taking a step to make Roe real.

When we tell Congress that we won’t stand for yet another law that seeks to restrict abortion coverage for poor women or to limit our choices when we purchase our own coverage through the Affordable Care Act, we make Roe real.

So this year, let’s get beyond the receptions and happy hours. Let’s stop pretending that Roe is some reproductive safety net, or that our power and resources should be spent in the service of protecting a legal right that has little meaning in the lives of people who need it the most. Until Hyde is overturned and low-income women are afforded the same right to abortion, Roe has very little meaning. Until we pass comprehensive, LGBTQ inclusive sexuality education, the promise of Roe is meaningless. Until young people are able to make their own autonomous decisions about pregnancy and abortion, Roe is nothing more than a false promise.

Let’s use this as an opportunity to change the narrative, flip the script, and raise up the experiences and voices of the most marginalized. Let’s pledge to do things differently.


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