Because of Roe v. Wade, and because of Rosie’s death, I am able to sit here and write this. I am able to accomplish what Rosie had planned for herself and have become a teacher. Because of Rosie, I can dream bigger, travel farther, educate others, and help people experiencing an abortion as their abortion doula.
I first became aware of abortion around the same time I became aware of many things related to sex and sexuality – during puberty. At the time, abortion represented survival to me. As a little brown girl from the Bronx, I knew what the statistics said about girls like me and our chances of “success.” If I knew one thing, I knew this: I was not going to come home and tell my mother that I was pregnant.
Reproductive choice is our right and also our responsibility, an awesome responsibility. But in an even more profound sense, choice is the human condition. It defines us as humans, and we are in turn defined by the choices we make. Choice is the basis of morality after all, and it is sacrifice as much as it is freedom.
There will always be a part of me that is fond of “choice,” such as the part of me that believes in the reproductive justice movement. But the part of me that must endure seeing my sisters denied access, or scrutinized for using the resources they do have, knows that choice is only for a few.
More and more women are being refused the right to give birth on their own terms as more and more hospitals ban women from VBACs. Choice means that a woman must have the freedom and support to compare the risks of VBAC and the risks of cesarean surgery.
Our partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America have demonstrated courage, stamina, creativity, and resilience in the face of fierce opposition, guided by the conviction that no woman is free unless she has the right to make decisions about her own body. And, like any movement for social justice, the movement for safe abortion internationally has seen its ups and downs. But today as we celebrate the 37th anniversary of Roe, we must all recognize the importance of the ongoing movement for abortion rights worldwide, a movement that will require the dedicated efforts and support of women and men for years to come.
Claims of PersonhoodUSA and others that Roe was decided without the benefit of medical and scientific knowledge on fetal development are simply not true.
On this 37th anniversary of Roe, I call on us to transform this
conversation. I call on us to stand tall so that the provision of abortion services in the United States is a model of care for the rest of the world. I call on us to ask our patients not just to care about themselves–but, as we do, to care about the women who come after them.
I fervently identified as pro-choice. However, how I define abortion rights is not as simple as being pro-choice. At the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, we are faced with talking about abortion rights within the broader context of women’s real lives.
Choice is a central component of the rational human being. It is especially important that we assert it for women whose choices are constrained by circumstances along with efforts to increase the circumstances that give women more choices.