1. News & Issues

On 37th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Women Reflect on Reproductive Rights

By January 22, 2010

Follow me on:

Photo David McNew/Getty Images

On the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a number of women have posted thought-provoking, insightful, and heartfelt commentaries on reproductive choice, what it means to be pregnant, fetal personhood, and abortion. Here's a sampling:

Robin Marty is technically 'pregnant,' but the fetus she is carrying died at 8 weeks. Yet her body wouldn't naturally miscarry the 'products of conception,' so at 12 weeks she had a D & C. Now, at 24 weeks, based on her pregnancy hormone levels, she's still 'pregnant.' She writes:

I think of these timelines when I hear people touting the personhood amendment, or declaring that life begins the moment a sperm fertilizes an egg. They are so definite that that is the moment life that a woman is "pregnant." But when, then, does a woman become "not pregnant?"

Was it when the fetus lost its heartbeat? In that case, I haven't been pregnant in almost four months....

I find it hard to understand how people can be certain that a fertilized egg at that precise moment becomes a life. It hasn't implanted anywhere where it can grow in order to live. It doesn't have a heartbeat. It hasn't become something that can survive without assistance. How does it now develop total rights that surpass even that of the woman carrying it?

If the end of a pregnancy can be this fluid, how can "this is the exact moment that a human begins and has rights?" Pregnancy is far too complicated for that.

Janet Crepps of the Center for Reproductive Rights wonders why a Kansas judge is tampering with the rule of law and allowing Scott Roeder -- the man who shot and killed abortion provider Dr. George Tiller -- to be considered for a lesser charge than first degree murder:

The fallout from such a ruling cannot be understated. If anti-choice extremists can justify murdering or physically harming abortion providers because they personally believe that abortion is wrong, then they would be, in effect, above the law.

Rachel, writing at Women's Health News, explains why she believes in a woman's individual right to choose:

I am pro-choice because I believe in women. I believe there are situations in a woman's life that I/the government cannot possibly manage for her, and I believe individual women are the ones responsible for making the best choices for themselves and their families. Not me, not a politician solely interested in rallying the faithful, not a pharmacist who refuses to fill a legal prescription, not an insurance plan that won't cover birth control...not schools and parents who believe that ignorance=bliss and safety, not states who refuse to protect women from the tyranny of the majority...and not those who would refuse to present medically accurate information to women on a whole host of issues. Women. The individual woman in the individual situation. I trust her, and leave her to her choice.

And finally, Stephanie Wolf at the Women's Media Center interviews Sarah Weddington, the attorney who successfully argued on behalf of Jane Roe in the landmark case that made abortion legal. Weddington shares her reaction to the Roe v. Wade decision and what she thinks of the landscape of reproductive rights today:

There were so many problems for women, but one of them, certainly, was the fact that they didn't have their own decision-making ability in terms of reproduction. We thought we had won forever--that women were the ones who got to make their basic decisions, not the government. If you had said to me that 37 years later this will be a huge issue and access will be very much under attack, I would never have believed it.

These are just a few of the many women who know we must not take our reproductive rights for granted, and who realize how important it is that we celebrate what we have -- and call attention to what is being threatened -- with each anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

If you want to share other women's voices that are speaking out for choice on this 37th anniversary, please post links in the comments below.

Related articles:


January 27, 2010 at 2:22 am
(1) day says:

Thank heavens I was born at a time that permitted abortions when I needed it. What would I do today?
Hangers were no longer an option when I was younger. Regrettably, we are heading back to the era of cruel, unreasonable, and arbitrary use of power.

February 9, 2010 at 5:45 pm
(2) Steph says:

Unfortunately, feminism has turned into a mockery of itself, taking away the rights of a child so we can have casual sex.
I am OK with abortion if the mother is a child herself, or was raped, or her life is in danger, but without those things, well guess what? You need to face up to the fact that a single-celled organism is a living thing, and that child will grow, unless your body naturally rejects it.
Abortion support is denial. the earliest feminists, the most important pioneers of our rights, were against abortion because of the hypocrisy it entailed, the sacrifice of an innocent for our own lives…somehow, liberal bra-burners have hijacked and perverted something that is so important to our futures.
We need equal rights and respect, but how can we get that if we can’t even consider the life of someone else that was created by our actions. It is life, whether you want to call it a baby or a fetus, it’s growing, it’s moving, and you’re turning your backs on it to make up for what you can’t woman up to.
In hating men and screaming about rights to kill children, you’re helping to turn the more aggressive men against us, resulting in female exploitation, and a new wave of sexist young men. We need respect, we don’t get that by taking zero responsibility, or whining, or asking the military to allow us in but lower the physical standards for women…we need to meet them at their own game, not ask for allowances. We need to carry ourselves with responsibility and wisdom…not mistakes.
I liked all the articles but this one, because I can think for myself instead of mold myself into a warped ideal of an unapologetic, careless group of women. This is about children, not your *ehem* pristine uterus. Put the child up for adoption, it’s not a tumor, I’ve had a tumor, and I’ve had a baby, not once did I ever think my son was not living, I FELT him living, and I held proof of it on his birthday. Don’t kid yourselves into murder.

February 15, 2010 at 8:03 pm
(3) Veronica says:

To Steph: No, early feminists opposed abortion because it was dangerous, due to the anti-abortion laws of the time.

Considering the physical demands of pregnancy, as well as the dangers of it for some, we will always need reproductive freedom, which includes birth control and abortion. I would not have an abortion, but this is a decision that only I and millions of other women can make. This is a right, like all the other rights we feminists champion. It’s really too bad that you have a problem with women’s rights, but I don’t. As Hillary Clinton has said before, women’s rights are human rights–and I am not ashamed to support them.

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.