Defending ‘Roe’ at 40

Defending ‘Roe’ at 40

In the face of a continuing right-wing assault in both legislatures and clinic corridors, the only thing to do is fight back.


Tuesday, January 22, marks the fortieth anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide. The decision has withstood many tests and challenges, both legal and political, but while Roe established abortion as a legal right for women, restrictive laws in many states mean women still have to cross state lines or face other restrictions to secure their legal reproductive rights.

As Nation editors wrote this week in looking at the landscape of reproductive rights in the days leading up to next week’s anniversary, a decades-long anti-choice campaign has resulted in a patchwork system where the legal right to abortion applies, in practice, only to those women lucky enough to live in certain states or to be sufficiently affluent to be able to travel for the procedure. State legislatures have passed dozens of anti-choice laws compromising many women’s abilities to exercise their rights. This invaluable map by NARAL Pro-Choice America offers a state-by-state summary.

In the face of a continuing right-wing assault in both legislatures and clinic corridors, the only thing to do is fight back. In honor of Tuesday’s anniversary, here’s a list of groups doing just that, all of which require continued support of all types.

NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood are the two largest organizations working to defend and expand women’s reproductive freedoms and they can’t do it without the support of all of us. Same for the venerable National Organization of Women which is leading a candlelight vigil on Tuesday in front of the US Supreme Court to commemorate Roe’s anniversary. (NOW also has a good list of local events taking places in all fifty states.)

There are also numerous, less well-known groups in the trenches working furiously on behalf of women coast to coast.

The largest obstacle to low-income women receiving abortions is the Hyde Amendment banning Medicaid funding of abortion. The National Network of Abortion Funds provide grants to low-income women who have trouble paying for abortions and works to close the gap between the legal right to abortion and safe access to abortion. It’s unlikely to happen in this Congress but repealing the Hyde Amendment should remain a critical progressive goal. Add your name to NNAF’s call and support the group with your time and money in its efforts to ensure the Constitutional right of reproductive freedom for all women, regardless of income.

For more than twenty years, the Center for Reproductive Rights has used the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right that all governments are legally obligated to protect, respect, and fulfill.  The world’s only global legal advocacy organization dedicated to advancing women’s reproductive health, the Center has strengthened reproductive health laws and policies in more than fifty countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the United States.

The National Advocates for Pregnant Women works to protect women’s human rights while pregnant, including the right to abortion but also to safe and healthy pregnancy.

The Young Women’s Empowerment Project organizes young women, especially young women of color, around choice and sexuality education.

Trust Women PAC is a national political organization founded to carry on the vision that Dr. George Tiller had for women of the world. The organization was formed largely to protect physicians who work in states particularly hostile to reproductive freedoms.

A women of color reproductive justice organization, SisterSong was formed in 1997 to educate women of color and policy makers on reproductive and sexual health and rights, and to work towards fuller access of health services, information and resources.

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health mobilizes Latinas around reproductive health with an emphasis on the unique needs of immigrant, frequently non-English speaking, women.

Please use the comments field below to let us know what groups we missed.

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