Roe at 40
The 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade provides the pro-choice community a chance to reflect on our victories and defeats over the last four decades.
It is clear that the individuals and organizations opposed to legal abortion are quickly adapting new strategies and tactics to advance their agenda. While anti-choice organizations have had some success in restricting access to abortion through the public policy process over the last four decades, their efforts to deny women options have evolved in recent years. No longer content to simply set up barriers through the legal process, the movement has redefined the word “access” and built a national network of unlicensed and unregulated “crisis pregnancy centers” with the sole intention of convincing women, sometimes through manipulation and lies, to carry their pregnancies to term. Women are already making decisions about their pregnancies in a world of inequality, limiting access and sharing mis-information only makes these decisions more difficult.
The New York Times recently profiled the rapid increase of crisis pregnancy centers in the United States over the last decade, stating-
While most attention has focused on scores of new state laws restricting abortion, the centers have been growing in numbers and gaining state financing and support. Largely run by conservative Christians, the centers say they offer what Roland Warren, head of Care Net, one of the largest pregnancy center organizations, described as “a compassionate approach to this issue… Jean Schroedel, a Claremont Graduate University politics professor, said that “there are some positive aspects” to centers, but that “things pregnant women are told at many of these centers, some of it is really factually suspect.
Two years ago, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina Foundation (NPCNCF) conducted an investigation of “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) operating throughout the state, and found some shocking results. Since 2006, the number of crisis pregnancy centers in the state has doubled.
- 92% of the CPCs studied (61 of 66 CPCs) had no medical professionals on staff.
- Only 24% (16 CPCs) disclosed that they are not medical facilities.
- 35% (23 CPCs) provide ultrasounds on site and 12% (8 CPCs) conduct STI testing.
Unfortunately, government has been slow to address and regulate these centers. Several municipalities around the country have taken action, although most have found their ordinances struck down by the courts. In Chapel Hill, our town council recently took action and voted for a resolution that expressed our support in the principles of informed consent and a patient’s fundamental right to complete and accurate medical information. Unfortunately, North Carolina law limits municipalities’ ability to pass ordinances to regulate or require signage at CPCs. Yet I hope that our symbolic resolution provides an opportunity to help shape the public agenda in our state.
As we celebrate the Roe v. Wade decision today, it’s important that we stay vigilant in protecting women’s right to make personal decisions about their reproductive health. The anti-choice movement will stop at nothing to make abortion legal in name only. These threats on women’s choices don’t just threaten their reproductive health, they threaten their ability to choose their own future, and exist as equal citizens in our state and country. It’s no mistake that many of the same organizations that oppose meaningful access to abortion also oppose the legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples or women’s success in the workforce. Granting these rights threatens the patriarchy, and “traditional” views about how men and women should exist in society. Let’s keep fighting to protect Roe, and insure every person has the right to choose their own future.