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Why Roe isn’t enough

January 22, 2009

Check out this piece at RH Reality Check today. Emily asked two questions of reproductive rights and justice advocates about the Roe anniversary. The first, what does Roe mean to you and the people you work with, and the second, is Roe enough?

Here are my answers:

For the women we work with, many of whom come from countries in Latin America where abortion is still criminalized, Roe has the potential to have a huge impact on their lives. Roe has the potential to make reproductive health services just like any other healthcare need a woman has, it has the potential to make a usually clandestine procedure safe and accessible. Unfortunately for them, the Roe decision has been weakened and diluted by subsequent legislation. The Hyde Amendment, in particular, has seriously stunted the potential of Roe. Because of these laws, we have a long way to go for low-income and immigrant women to really feel the full affects of this historic Supreme Court decision.

Roe isn’t enough because privacy is not enough. That narrow legal framework has only barely protected our legal right to access the procedure. It says nothing about access, about funding, about autonomy and barriers. It says nothing about justice. It has not addressed those who based on moral and religious convictions try to limit the health care women can receive. It has not addressed those who want women’s bodies to be manipulated in service of a religious agenda and who want the fetus’s rights to be placed about those of the mother. We need a lot more than a shaky legal framework to stand on if we want to achieve reproductive justice.

Read other advocates comments here.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 22, 2009 12:29 pm

    Very, very well said. Whatever the letter of the law, a theoretical right that cannot be exercised in practice is not of much use. Bodily autonomy is too important an issue to simply declare it protected only for those with means and resources.

  2. January 22, 2009 5:34 pm

    “The Hyde Amendment, in particular, has seriously stunted the potential of Roe.”

    Hear hear!

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