Happy Birthday, Roe v Wade!
A new poll released on the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade shows that a majority of Americans believes that abortion should remain legal in most or all cases, and 70 percent oppose efforts to overturn the landmark Supreme Court decision that in 1973 established the constitutional right to end a pregnancy. Pollsters expressed surprise at what they perceived as a shift in attitudes, pointing to earlier surveys that showed most Americans opposing abortion. That shift likely illustrates a pro-choice backlash against ... well, where do we start? The all-male congressional panel convened to discuss contraception? The idea that a rape-induced pregnancy is a gift from God? The news that a woman's body can shut out sperm from a "legitimate rape"? There are, unfortunately, many to choose from.
While the latest poll results are good news for those who believe in woman's right to choose, the fact is that abortion rights are being steadily eroded across the country. As Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, notes in a recent editorial, "[O]pponents have done a lot to make abortion care inaccessible." She continues:
We must reject their efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and Title X family planning, to treat contraception differently than other preventive services under the Affordable Care Act, and to make abortion care unavailable to young, rural, and low-income women. We must reject their efforts to interfere in the relationship between women and their healthcare providers. That means saying "no" to laws that require doctors to give women medically inaccurate information, "no" to laws that delay care and require women to have medically unnecessary ultrasounds and counseling before they can access abortion care, and "no" to laws that let employers deny women access to health services based on the employer's beliefs.
Forty years after Roe v Wade, the fight to preserve a woman's sovereignty over her own body is clearly not over. While recent poll results are gratifying, fundamental human rights should never be left to the will of a shifting majority.