As 2011 wound down, we reconciled a year of unprecedented attacks on reproductive rights in the U.S. against the Center’s seven huge court victories that beat back some of the most flagrant, demeaning laws recently passed. We felt a strong measure of momentum approaching the 39 th anniversary of Roe v. Wade—courts across the land had clearly demonstrated their disapproval of the latest schemes enacted by anti-choice legislators.
Then, in a matter of weeks, we saw exactly how vulnerable reproductive rights are.
The first blow came when Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, chose to play politics and ignore years of carefully researched science when she reversed the FDA’s decision to make certain emergency contraception available without prescription to anyone who might need it.
Weeks later, three judges in Texas decided to let a demeaning and condescending ultrasound law go into effect at the expense of women’s trust, equality, and dignity. It was the first time a federal court had failed to find these intrusive procedures unconstitutional.
The noise of a presidential election sits as a backdrop to these dramatic events. Some candidates are practically tripping over themselves to prove just how determined they are to take away a woman’s right to choose and to block access to the full range of reproductive health services.
We are left shaken by the swiftness of these setbacks and angry at the utter disregard for fundamental human rights. Still, we remain undaunted by the challenge ahead of us and never more certain of our purpose.
If nothing else, these recent developments serve as fresh warnings of the urgency of our mission.
January 22, 1973, the date of Roe v. Wade, instantly became a monument in our history when that Supreme Court decision became law and established abortion as a constitutionally protected right. For 39 years, that protection has been battered and beaten into an endangered species.
The future of reproductive rights begins today. We mark the 39th anniversary with a renewed commitment to winning this crucial battle.
We must redouble our efforts to strengthen Roe v. Wade by strategically attacking the laws that seek to undermine it.
We must secure access to affordable contraception for all.
We must change the conversation about reproductive rights from one that is mired in politics to one that focuses on fundamental human rights.
And we must do this together.
Stand with the Center for Reproductive Rights on this historic anniversary. Recognize the immense importance of Roe v. Wade by renewing your commitment to protect it. And join us in our work so that women now and for generations to come will be guaranteed the ability to exercise the full range of their reproductive freedom.