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Obama's Inauguration and Roe v. Wade - State of Women's Reproductive Rights

By January 6, 2009

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"Barack Obama will be inaugurated two days before the 36th anniversary of Roe v Wade," notes author, activist, and reproductive rights expert Gloria Feldt. She's focusing on the new administration's priorities in the area of women's reproductive healthcare.

Few women are better suited to comment on the state of reproductive rights in this country. And Feldt knows this topic intimately. A teenage mother back in the days when teen pregnancy was hushed up or quickly 'corrected' with a shotgun marriage, she rose to become president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Feldt has spent years on the front lines of choice, tracking every piece of legislation that has eroded what Roe v. Wade brought about in 1973 -- safe, accessible, legal abortion.

For a thorough (albeit whirlwind) tour of the major reproductive issues of the past few decades, read Feldt's piece, "Beyond Roe: Toward Human Rights for Women." Although written as a book review, Feldt concisely touches upon the noteworthy events and reveals Bush's legacy-- a legal system packed with anti-choice judges who don't want Roe to stand. She sets the stage and identifies what an Obama administration will have to repair and set right.

Many of us may be breathing a sigh of relief now that staunchly pro-life George W. Bush is gone. After all, candidate Obama said that if elected he would make preserving a woman's right to choose a priority.

But with a shaky economy, conflict in the Middle East, and many more pressing issues, his attention may be elsewhere.

We have to remind him of his stated priority, and we must support state and federal legislators who are like-minded. Roe may seem safe, but we need to pitch in to make its footing solid once again.

A candlelight Roe v. Wade vigil in January 2003
Photo © Alex Wong/Getty Images

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