Letter to the Editor: Anniversary of Roe v. Wade means examining our rights

In the last 41 years, reproductive freedoms have changed.

Wednesday marks the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. As a senior at the University of Missouri, I can’t remember a time that access to safe and legal abortion was not the law of the land. Don’t be fooled—I don’t take this right for granted. Our grandmothers, our mothers, our communities fought for this right so that I would be able to make my own decisions about my body. Growing up in the wake of Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that protects this right, has made me appreciate what my generation has and how essential it is for me to continue the fight for reproductive freedom. And as we honor the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the right to safe and legal abortion has never felt more important to me than it does now.

There have been more attacks on our reproductive freedoms in the last three years than in the entire previous decade. Using bogus claims of protecting “women’s health and safety,” politicians across the country have been chipping away at our reproductive rights, state-by-state. Since 2010, more than 200 restrictions on abortion access have become law—and 70 of these new restrictions have passed in 2013 alone. The result: more than half of women of reproductive age like us are living in states where access to abortion is being restricted by their state legislatures. Make no mistake: safe and legal abortion is under attack.

Even here in Missouri, several anti-women’s health bills are underway. Among these are Senate Bill 519 and House Bill 1313, which extend the mandatory delay for abortion from 24 hours to 72 hours, forcing women to wait longer to access medical care. These bills do nothing to improve the health of the woman and will push her abortion later in pregnancy.

For my generation, reproductive freedom is not just about abortion. It’s interconnected with the spectrum of social justice issues we care about. It is impossible to discuss access to abortion without addressing poverty, racism, discrimination against immigrants, and the range of issues and systems of inequality that impact our ability to truly make the decisions that are best for ourselves, our families and our communities. Some of us have come to care about abortion through our passion for other issues, but regardless of the hour we entered this fight, we’re here to stay.

Katie Youmans, kytf7@mail.missouri.edu

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