Really, Mr. President?

By Louise Melling, Director, ACLU Center for Liberty

I’ve just read the statement the president issued for the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that the right of privacy encompasses the decision of a woman to end a pregnancy. The statement includes many important sentiments. But, to me, it is most striking for what it fails to say: nowhere does the statement mention the word “abortion.”

We all know that abortion is an explosive political issue and that the president is addressing many audiences. But if we really support the right to privacy, and support women, and support the ability of our daughters to have the same rights as our sons, then the silence about abortion must end. The silence does nothing but add to the stigma that already surrounds abortion. It tells women — nearly one in three of whom will have an abortion in their life times — that what they did was unspeakable. It does little but embolden our already aggressive adversaries.

We can, like the president, support access to sexuality education and birth control to help prevent unintended pregnancies; we can and do and must support women who want to continue their pregnancies; and we can and should support parents as they raise their children. But at the same time, if we care about women and we care about families, we need to support our continued access to safe and legal abortions. The days of hush and whisper were the days before Roe. Let’s not go there.

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  • lina

    Abortion isn’t a four-letter-word!

    Part of the problem we face is too many pro-choice people take their cues from the Clinton line that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare” as if there’s something wrong with it. Abortion empowers women and abortion providers save women’s lives. In other words, access to abortion is a very good thing – a moral thing for those of us who value women!

    Say it loud!

  • datasnake

    It SHOULD be rare. Not because there’s something “wrong” with it, but because it’s SURGERY. Like all (non-cosmetic) surgery, it only happens if something has gone wrong. I know an older woman who had a mastectomy. I wish she hadn’t had to, not because of some nonsensical conviction that “nipples are people too”, but because of how MISERABLE she was in the hospital. I know a younger man who had his appendix out. I wish he hadn’t had to go through that, not because i think his appendix has rights of its own, but because he was in considerable pain for WEEKS after. I know a man who is on dialysis. I feel bad for him, not because I think there’s something wrong with using a machine to replace a failing organ, but because it’s time-consuming and obviously not very pleasant. It’s the same principle. In a perfect world, there would be no mastectomies, appendectomies, dialysis or abortions, because there would be no cancer, appendicitis, kidney failure or unwanted pregnancies.

  • arekushieru

    DataSnake, I wish I could love your post 100 times over.  Just to let you know, though, early term abortions are one of the least invasive surgeries out there. But, anyways, WONderful post.  :D