On the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, commit to a 40th
On the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I woke up before dawn. I pulled on my thermal shirt, laced up my running shoes, and headed out the door. I pounded the pavement along Rock Creek Parkway, sweeping up and around the Tidal Basin and onto the National Mall. When I got to the Mall, I stopped to watch the setup for the "March for Life," the annual anti-choice rally.
The sight of thousands of people wearing brightly colored t-shirts bearing anti-choice slogans gave me real pause. The past few years have been difficult ones for the pro-choice movement -- sixty-nine anti-choice laws were passed in 2011; thirty-four were passed in 2010. These are astounding figures, figures some in the anti-choice movement call "breathtaking." On this, they and I agree. It is breathtaking, the scope of the attacks on reproductive rights we've seen over the past few years. So on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I think it is important to remember what the ability to choose really means.
When I laced up my shoes that morning, I did so from my home, just down the street from the campus where I attend graduate school. I am all too aware of the impact an unplanned pregnancy could have on my education goals. I may be able to support myself meagerly with scholarships and student loans, but supporting a family would likely be out of the question. My long term career goals might be completely out of reach if I did not have the right to choose.
And I am not the only one who has been positively impacted by abortion rights -- half of women who have a child between the ages of 15 and 19 receive a high school diploma before the age of 22, compared to 90 percent of women who do not have a child. There are real consequences to anti-choice policies.
So, on the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I'd like to take a second to express my gratitude for that decision. I'd like to thank the Court for recognizing that the five percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 who have an unintended pregnancy every year should have the right to decide whether they want to raise a child or not. I'd like to thank them for 39 years of women being able to attend college; for 39 years of women being doctors; for 39 years of female lawyers, politicians, astronauts.
The right to choose is about so much more than pregnancy -- it is about self-determination, about the right for women to choose their futures, and about privacy. And on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I hope everyone reflects on that and vows to see the 40th anniversary, too.