We Need More than Roe

We Need More Than Roe

Tomorrow is the 42nd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. But year after year, as we celebrate that important moment in reproductive rights history, we need to also consider all the ways in which we are so very far from winning a true right to an abortion. This week the new Congress is pushing a national 20 week abortion ban -- and they've worked their way up to that proposal with decades of incremental changes at the state level. In fact there already is a 20 week ban here in Texas, enacted in 2013 as part of the HB2 legislation. But beyond laws like 20 week bans, there are other restrictions that tend to get much less attention because their impacts fall only on the poor, people of color, immigrants, and people in rural areas. When we focus on Roe, we lose sight of just how many people haven't really ever had a choice because it's not enough for abortion to be legal. We also need for it to be accessible. And what does that mean?

Few people know about the Hyde Amendment. This rider on the budget has been in place since 1976. It's author, Henry Hyde, said plainly that he truly wished he could make it impossible for any woman to obtain an abortion, but barring that he would use Medicaid to restrict access for poor women. Immediately the right to an abortion for so many was cut short; the Hyde Amendment prevents the use of Medicaid funds to pay for abortions. In fact, abortion is the only procedure that's ever been banned from Medicaid. But this impacts people whom are often forgotten, even by a mainstream feminist movement that purports to support equality for all. 

Beyond Hyde, we have to look at economic factors that might cause people to seek abortions when they might otherwise choose to parent. We want abortion to always be an option; we will never live in a world without a desire for abortion access. But some people report seeking abortions because they cannot afford to parent. They may already have at least one child at home to care for, and they may be making tough decisions every single month about how to stretch the family dollar. Around the anniversary of Roe, we're reminded of just how the entire concept of reproductive choice is a falsehood when people cannot choose to parent due to economic circumstance. Not only do we want to see abortion accessible and affordable for everyone, but we want to see economic equity such that those who wish to parent can do so when they decide it is right for them. 

And what about people in prison who cannot properly access adequate pre-natal care or abortion? Or people who live in parts of Texas far away from abortion providers? 

These may feel like scattered thoughts on a page without a thread to hold them together. But reproductive freedom means so much more than Roe. This week, as we look back, let's look forward, too. Take a step to fight for a change that will secure abortion access for everyone. Make a donation to the Texas Equal Access Fund to help someone who would not otherwise be able to afford their abortion, or become an RJ Hero as a sustaining donor. Take action and demand justice by signing this letter to the President asking that he present a Hyde-free budget to Congress. Write a letter or make a phone call to your own congressperson asking that they consider fighting to have the Hyde Amendment removed from the budget. Many are probably not even aware of or thinking about Hyde; plant that seed so that some day we might see it's removal. Find out more about how equitable criminal justice starts in the womb and how you can help put pressure on the Texas criminal justice system to provide proper care for pregnant inmates. Learn more through Nuestro Texas about the fight for abortion access and barriers faced in the Rio Grande Valley region of Texas. And these are just some places to get started. There are so many ways that you can show up in your community for reproductive justice. So on this anniversary of Roe, will you?