The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Latoya Veal, 202-628-8669, ext. 116

Roe v. Wade Turns 39, Abortion Rights Still Under Attack

Statement of NOW President Terry O'Neill


As we celebrate the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that recognized a woman's constitutional right to legal abortion, we can't forget how many times women's lives have been put at risk in the past year. Legislators in 24 states passed 92 anti-abortion provisions in 2011, shattering the previous record of 34 adopted in 2005, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

These new restrictions included waiting-period requirements, onerous and unnecessary clinic regulations and cuts to family planning services and providers because of their connection with abortion. Thanks to a newly energized grassroots coalition, voters defeated the Mississippi Personhood Amendment, a measure that would have legally defined personhood as beginning at fertilization in the state's constitution. But that fight is far from over.

Anti-choice extremists have also continued their push to restrict insurance coverage of abortion. Eight states severely limit insurance coverage of abortion in all private insurance plans written in the state, including those that will be offered through the health insurance exchanges that will be established under the federal health care reform law.

A majority of Americans agree with the Roe v. Wade decision and support a woman's right to safe and legal abortion care. One in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime. Yet the current GOP presidential candidates are so out of touch that Mitt Romney supports overturning Roe, Newt Gingrich wants to defund family planning, and Rick Santorum favors a constitutional ban on abortion.

Reproductive health care is not for some women; it is a fundamental right of all women. We will not let anti-choice groups destroy what we worked so hard for. On this anniversary, and with 289 days left until Election Day 2012, NOW pledges to work tirelessly to elect officials who will support women's access to the full range of reproductive health care services, and defeat those who don't.

The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. NOW has 500,000 contributing members and 550 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.