Thursday, January 24, 2013

On the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Tuesday, January 22, was the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision ensuring the rights of women to have safe and legal abortions. It should be a time to celebrate but the issue is far from settled. Even after all this time, both pro-choice advocates and anti-abortionists demonstrated support for their views. As we speak, bills are being proposed in Congress and in 26 state legislatures to strongly limit access to both abortion and many forms of birth control.

Yes, 40 years later, instead of the abortion issue being settled, the tone of debate has become more polarized and angry. One bill being sponsored by Congressman Paul Ryan and co-sponsored by 16 other Congresspeople is the Sanctity of Human Life Act. This bill would give full rights of personhood to a human embryo and define life as beginning with fertilization. This could effectively outlaw most forms of birth control. With a huge rise of unplanned pregnancies, back alley abortions would become common just as they were before effective birth control existed and abortion was legal. Yes, the war on women continues. We may have won some battles with the re-election of Claire McCaskill (v. the infamous Todd Akin of the “legitimate rape” statement) but there will be more to come. Be prepared to exert pressure on your representatives to vote against any of these bills that come their way. Isn’t it ironic that the party of small government wants to expand their role into micromanaging the family planning that should be the private purview of each family.

As America debates the role of government in taking care of the most vulnerable among us, there has been a movement to severely limit our national responsibility to the poor. Among those who are already here, more and more people are having difficulty feeding their families. Here in Evanston, Illinois, the Greater Chicago Food Depository  and Interfaith Action of Evanston  have partnered to bring a monthly free produce truck here after Evanston was identified as having 15% of people food insecure (not knowing where their next meal was coming from). In December, 2012, on the first delivery, hoping to get the word out to 100 people, 335 people came to get free fruits and vegetables. I helped to check people in and they just kept coming. We don’t have the political will to feed the people who are already here, but some of us want to force poor and working class people to have more children anyway. Middle class and upper class people have always been able to obtain birth control and abortions even when it was completely illegal but as Cong. Barney Frank said years ago, “The right to life begins with conception and ends at birth.”
So Happy Anniversary Roe v. Wade. Now we have to make sure that this right isn't taken away.





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