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Rallying for ROE

I’m lucky. When I was 17 and first started having sex, my mom had no problem taking me to the gynecologist when I asked for birth control. My mom knew that the rights to my body were mine and mine alone, and that a medical professional could advise me how to make my own health care decisions.

Unfortunately, many other young people across the country aren’t as fortunate. Even if they feel comfortable talking about sex with their parents (which many do not for understandable reasons), they still face obstacles to receiving reproductive healthcare, especially abortions. These obstacles exist even in Massachusetts, the so-called “most progressive state in the country” where birth control was invented.

In recent weeks, many states, particularly across the South, have passed some of the most restrictive abortion laws since Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973. Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana have all passed legislation that restricts abortion after six weeks, before most women even know they are pregnant; Kentucky, Ohio, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Utah are all also queuing up restrictive abortion laws. Many of these states suffer from the highest infant mortality rates in the country because these states also declined to expand Medicaid.

But, this isn’t just a “Bible-Belt problem.” The push to take away people’s bodily autonomy is all part of a larger conservative agenda to bring Roe back before the Supreme Court and gut it. The consequences of this wouldn’t be confined to Southern states, but would reverberate nationally. This is an everyone problem; before Roe, 200 women died per year because of self-induced abortions.

During that time, if you lived in a rural area, you had to travel to a city to access a provider, and if you were able to convince a doctor to perform an abortion, they could face criminal consequences. And forget about any consideration given to the needs of trans men, young women, nonbinary folks, or the partners of pregnant people.

We can’t go back. That’s why, in Massachusetts, we are working to pass the ROE Act.

Currently, people seeking abortion care in Massachusetts have to travel across state lines if they are under 18 and do not have permission from a parent or judge. Likewise, in the case of a fatal fetal anomaly discovered after 24 weeks, a pregnant person has to go out-of-state to access abortion care. This is wrong and must be fixed.

Since the passage of Roe in 1973, abortion has been legal. However, for many people, abortion has been effectively illegal for years because of laws that restrict access and place undue burden on providers and patients.

Recently, activists have shifted from calling the movement a fight for “reproductive rights” to a struggle for “reproductive justice.” Abortion care isn’t just about the ability to choose to end a pregnancy, it’s also about ensuring that all people have the freedom to make the healthcare decisions that serve them best—regardless of sex, geographic location, religion, sexual preference, and so on.

I had the privilege of accessing birth control at 17 and a parent who was supportive in that decision. I am thankful for my privilege to choose when and how to start a family, but if I were low-income, a minor with unsupportive parents, or a resident of a less progressive state, I wouldn’t be so lucky.

It’s high time for our legislators to get their hands off our bodies. It’s going to take all of us to protect reproductive healthcare for future generations and I hope you’ll join me.

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How to cite this page

Dubinsky, Rachael. "Rallying for ROE." 1 July 2019. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on September 20, 2019) <https://jwa.org/blog/rallying-roe>.

Two people hold "Abortion is Healthcare" signs. Via Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts.

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