Abortion rights activist rally in front of the US supreme court in Washington on Tuesday. Photograph: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images Photo Credit: https://www.theguardian.com/law/2019/may/21/abortion-rights-activists-to-rally-at-supreme-court-to-protest-new-state-bans

Hi, everyone! It’s been a long time since one of these columns and I’m going to try and keep my boiling rage to a simmer, but this column is going to be short and sweet because I am (still) incandescently angry about all of the, quite frankly, bullshit. It has been over 45 years since the United States Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide (under the 1973 decision, Roe v. Wade), and we’re still debating and litigating a woman’s right to choose.

Women and girls are increasingly attacked under the current presidential administration, with its supporters hell bent on rolling back women’s rights to the last century. States nationwide are challenging women’s constitutional rights to abortion in hopes that the ensuing legal cases will make their way to the lower courts, and then to the Supreme Court, where the conservative majority could theoretically reverse Roe v. Wade.

Anti-abortion activists and “pro-lifers” (don’t even get me started on the concept of “pro-life”) are trying to chip away at women’s rights bit by bit, under the guise of “protecting women.” In the last few weeks (or months, if we’re being honest here…), it’s been harder and harder to watch the news and hear all of the horrible things happening, again, under the guise of “protecting women.” If I have to hear an old, white male lawmaker talk about the “sanctity of life” while simultaneously not supporting programs that enhance life—like social programs for low income women and children and ones that provide free contraceptives—and those that protect us from those who indiscriminately take life (I could write volumes about gun legislation), I am going to scream. It takes two to tango, and women don’t magically become pregnant on their own. Why not have societal, legal, financial and emotional consequences for the men who recklessly cause pregnancy?

In the last few weeks and months, states like Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Missouri have been clamping down on the right to abortion. Last Friday, the St. Louis Planned Parenthood’s license to provide abortions was set to lapse because the Missouri health department refused to renew it. Missouri would have been the only state in the country to have zero abortion clinics since Roe v. Wade, but a federal judge granted a restraining order until the court can hear the case tomorrow, June 4. The fight for women’s healthcare continues.

On the bright side, last week, state legislatures in Illinois and Nevada moved forward with legislation meant to protect and ensure women’s access to abortion in those states. Governor Steve Sisolak (D-Nev.) signed the “Trust Nevada Women Act” last week, and Governor JB Pritzker (D-Ill.) has said that he will sign the legislation that the Illinois Legislature passed last week. Beacons of hope in my otherwise rage-filled nightmare.

For a state-by-state look at abortion access in the United States, see this NBC infographic.

I can’t believe we still have to fight for the right to safe, legal abortion in 2019, but there it is. Abortion must be seen as a normal, acceptable part of women’s healthcare. When girls and women are trusted to make decisions about their own bodies, with no outside interference, that is when we will achieve full equality.

-Sage Daugherty
Associate Editor
Girl Museum

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