Forty-three years ago today, the Supreme Court issued a momentous ruling – Roe v. Wade – which enshrined in law the right to choose whether to have an abortion, recognizing that the decision to continue or end a pregnancy was best left between a woman and her doctor.
The majority of Americans still believe that women and their families – not government – are best placed to make this very personal decision.
Yet since 1973, political restrictions have eroded women’s ability to decide if, when, and how to build a family, and imperiled women’s health in the process.
These include regulations that claim to improve patient safety but actually do not and laws that force doctors to lie to their patients against their own medical knowledge and judgment. As a result, clinics are closing around the country, even in progressive states.
Even worse, lawmakers in some states have outlawed both private and government insurance coverage for abortion, even when a woman’s health is in danger, or she has survived rape or incest. Restrictions on abortion coverage disproportionately affect low-income women, women of color, immigrant women, and young women, who are less likely to have access. They are also already disadvantaged in their access to the resources, information, and services necessary to prevent an unintended pregnancy or to carry a healthy pregnancy to term.
When women don’t have access to safe, legal abortion, they take matters into their own hands, which can be dangerous. In Texas, which has some of the country’s toughest anti-abortion laws, new research estimates that 22% of women have either tried to induce their own abortion, or know someone who has.
To those who would deny the health implications of overturning Roe, in 1965, 17% of all pregnancy-related deaths in the US were caused by illegal abortion, and the rates were even higher for poor women and women of color.
The EACH Woman Act, introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), with over seventy Congressional Co-Sponsors, is trying to change this. It ensures abortion coverage for every woman, no matter how much she earns or how she is insured.
It would prevent politicians from interfering with decisions that are best left to women and their doctors, and bar political meddling with the choices of private health insurance companies.
We stand in support of these brave Members of Congress, alongside over thirty women’s health, rights, and justice organizations from around the country who have supported the EACH woman act.
Every woman should have coverage for a full range of pregnancy-related care, including abortion. When health programs cover birth control and abortion – not just childbirth – people can plan if and when to have children. That’s good for them and for society as a whole.
New Jersey Abortion Access Fund
District 5 Coalition for Change
North Jersey People for Progress
District 4 Coalition for Change
Reproductive Justice Committee of The Unitarian Society of Ridgewood
National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section
Planned Parenthood of Central and Greater Northern New Jersey
Northern NJ NOW
Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of NJ
Video courtesy of ACLU-National