Roe v. Wade Gave Us the Right to Choose-- and (some) Politicians Have Tried to Take it Away Ever Since

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Today marks the 40th anniversary of the landmark Roe vs Wade court case decision, which ensured a woman’s right to choose.

But forty years after the decision-- forty years after improved and safer health services for women -- there are still many who would like to roll back or even overturn the rights guaranteed by the ruling.

Comments of candidates like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock propelled the Choice issue to the forefront of November's election. But while these comments were particularly vile, they were not particularly unusual or misrepresentative of the Republican party, despite claims to the contrary. The Republican party platform has grown ever clearer over the years on its opposition to a woman's right to make their own personal medical decision.

As the Guardian shows, the platform has grown increasingly frenetic on the issue over the years. Since 1976, the Republican Party platform has dramatically increased its use of the word “abortion” (or related phrases.)

The platforms have included language to limit, supersede, and overturn the Supreme Court’s decision, to deny a woman’s right to choose. And, despite voters’ clear mandate on the issue (polls show that 70% of Americans agree with the court decision, and voters sent a strong rebuke to 2012 anti-choice candidates), some of these policies are succeeding. 

Per Ms. Foundation, states with legislation that limits a woman’s right to choose have doubled in the past decade:

Here in Oregon, we are no exception. Just six years ago, Oregonians fought to defeat an initiative that would require parental notification for minors (age 15 - 17), with no exception for rape, incest, or for teens in abusive homes. And in 2012, two anti-choice initiatives circulated for the November ballot. Though they missed qualification, at least one of these initiatives has already been re-filed for the November 2014 ballot and aims to limit a woman’s right to choose. And, according to Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, 75% of Oregon counties already have no abortion provider.

So while you take pause today to celebrate the freedoms brought with Roe v Wade, take an extra pause to prepare for what we must do to ensure our continued right to choose – because those rights are never simply won, but must be forever fought for.

For more, check out the guest column from Planned Parenthood Executive Director Laura Terrill Patten that appeared in this morning’s Oregonian.

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