What Did You Say, Mr. Bland?
'Women's Freedom Depends on Roe'
To the Editor:
It's been 33 years since Roe v. Wade legalized aboriton nationwide.
On January 22, 1973, a young lawyer named Sarah Weddington successfully argued the Roe v. Wade case before the United States Supreme Court. But the ink wasn't dry on the decision before the anti-choice forces began attempting to eviscerate Roe and all that the monumnetal decision stands for.
Anti-choice state legislators have pushed laws that require waiting periods, biased and inaccurate pre-abortion counseling and other barriers to a women's right to choose. Anti-choice foot soldiers mustered on the sidewalks of health clinics to harass, murder and brutalize staff and patients who were attempting to gain access to the health care facility to which they were fully entitled.
Most baffling about the anti-choice activists, who have been wagin 33 years of warefare against choice, is their wholesale rejection of the measures that would prevent the need for abortion.
They oppose comprehensive, medically accurate sex-education, even though it has been proven that truthful, comprehensive sex education is effective in teaching teens responsible decision making, disease prevention and family planning.
They oppose emergency conraception and sometimes all forms of birth control. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that without birth control, there will be more unintended pregnancies and therefore an increased need for abortion services.
Over the past few years, anti-choice pharmacists have refused to fill legal prescriptions for emergency contraception because of their own personal biases. You have to wonder how many women were left with an unwanted pregnancy after a pharmacist refused to do his or her job.
In a number of states, attorneys general have tried to subpoena the personal, private medical records of women who have had abortions. Privacy is the cornerstone of Roe, and the right to medical privacy is as organic to American society as the right to speaka in the public square.
Roe v. Wade is about self-determination and bodily integrity. It is about how securing these rights gives women an equal place at life's table. Justice Harry Blackmun, writing for the majority, called Roe "a step that had to be taken as we go down the road toward the full emancipation of women."
Thirty-three years of freedom-and counting.
Jeffrey Bland, president and CEO
Planned Parenthood of Greater Western New Jersey