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On the anniversary of Roe, we fight for control of our bodies

As we face the real possibility of losing federal protections for safe, legal abortion, we must take action at the state level.

Pro- and anti-choice supporters demonstrating in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on January 22, 2016.
Pro- and anti-choice supporters demonstrating in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on January 22, 2016.
REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Like millions of other women, I remember when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that abortion was legal in our country. The landmark decision on Jan. 22, 1973, changed the course of our country and so many individual lives. For many of us, this pivotal event was like a door had suddenly opened into our futures, one in which we were finally able to really and truly be in control of our own lives. It meant we could breathe.

Now, on the heels of the disastrous, dangerous, and deadly Trump administration, the basic human right to control your body and your health is out of grasp for many Americans. More than 200 judges have been appointed by Donald Trump to lifetime positions, three of whom are on the highest court in the land. Right now, 17 cases on abortion rights are one step away from the Supreme Court.

Every year, we fight back against laws to ban abortion, take away birth control and put control of our own bodies in someone else’s hands. In 2019, Minnesota lawmakers tried to ban abortion in our state. And this year they intend to do it again.

Not a theoretical threat

Most Minnesotans think that reproductive health care and rights are safe in our state, but that is simply not true. If anti-abortion lawmakers get their way this year, sexual and reproductive health care and rights will be decimated. This is not a theoretical threat; it’s already happened in states across our country, it’s already happened in South Dakota, and it’s happening to our neighbors in Iowa and in North Dakota right now.

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And we know that when people lose abortion and birth control access, it is people with low incomes, communities of color, and rural communities who are the ones most harmed. Why should anyone have to leave any state so they can breathe, so they can envision their own futures, so they can be in charge of their own lives?

Sarah Stoesz
Sarah Stoesz
If there is one thing the last four years have shown, it’s that there are no guarantees. And in the many years since the day I learned that Roe was the law of the land, we’ve watched politicians continually attack women’s bodies, by attacking our essential reproductive health care, including abortion. These attacks never stop, and we would be foolish to think they would, despite the well-established fact that most people support people’s right to decide the reproductive health care that is best for them, to embrace whatever future they choose for themselves. These data are incontrovertible. More than three-quarters of Americans support safe, legal abortion, the highest percentage ever, according to many polls.

The PRO Act

That’s why we are proud to support Minnesota’s Protect Reproductive Options Act (PRO Act), which was just introduced in the Minnesota Legislature. The PRO Act ensures all Minnesotans can make their own reproductive health care decisions, without interference from politicians. The legislation establishes the fundamental right to make autonomous decisions about our bodies, including our own reproductive health care, the right to birth control and the right to continue a pregnancy or to have an abortion.

As we face the real possibility of losing federal protections for safe, legal abortion, we must take action at the state level. It’s time to protect Minnesotans’ reproductive health options, so that we will be able to control our lives and futures for generations to come, no matter what.

Sarah Stoesz has led the local Planned Parenthood affiliate for 20 years. She’s worked in health care, health equity, public policy and politics for her entire career.

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