Today--on the 34th anniversary of Roe v Wade--I have a request. Instead of writing about the legislation, the rhetoric, or the politics surrounding reproductive rights and justice, let's keep it simple. Let's just trust women.
Seems easy enough, I know. But given that over 30 years after Roe women are still fighting the same battles, maybe we need a remedial course.
Trust women to know what's best for themselves and their families
Many women who choose to have abortions do so out of concern for their existing children. It's time to put to bed the bullshit stereotypes of women having abortions out of "convenience" or selfishness.
Trust young women to make decisions about their future
Whether it's access to emergency contraception or abortion, young women have the right to make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. Not to mention, let's be logical. If we're too young to make the decision to prevent or end a pregnancy, how are we not too young to have a child?
Trust low-income women--don't punish them
Sure, Roe legalized abortion--but the many laws impeding access to abortion disproportionately affect low-income women. Mandatory waiting periods are unreasonable for low-income women who often can't take more than a day off of work and for rural women who need to travel long distances to get to their nearest abortion provider. Not to mention the Hyde Amendment, which has been around almost as long as Roe and prevents federal Medicaid funding for abortion. Hyde doesn't get much attention these days--as Jill from Feministe says, "The women who are being most negatively affected by Hyde are poor women, women of color, women who rely on government aid--you know, women who just don't matter as much as wealthier white women who have the privilege and time to get out and vote, to contribute to the Democratic party, to attend the fundraisers."
Trust women to have children
One aspect of reproductive justice that isn't often talked about is the right to have children. At a recent conference for the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, women spoke out about the U.S.'s history with sterilizing women (especially low-income women and women of color) and punitive "fetal rights" laws. Whether women are terminating a pregnancy or want to carry a pregnancy to term--we have to trust women with their bodies and reproductive health and futures.
While waxing political about Roe is important, let's not forget that today is about women's lives--and no one is more of an expert in that than women themselves.