To me writing about Roe v. Wade in 2013 is really just a practice in futility. On the 40th anniversary of this watershed moment in the history of civil liberties in America, it is spent celebrating the victories of our elders, while others march in mourning. For the past week the thought that’s been running through my head is – so what? As a woman of child bearing age, what is Roe really doing for me these days?
I know this seems harsh and you may think I should be sitting here telling you all the great things Roe has provided for me and millions of other women. I don’t mean it to take away the historical significance – I agree it was huge. Key word: was. 40 years after the decision we have placed so many restrictions on legal abortion that they whole idea that abortion is technically legal is nominal. Yeah, it might be legal but it’s not accessible.
Let’s build a metaphorical road – Kansas style.
Previous to 1973 very few states had yellow brick roads that led their way to reproductive freedom. Most of the time it was very hard to find these roads, and they were difficult to follow and had many bricks sticking up and often times the women would trip and fall and hurt themselves on their way to justice.
In 1973 a group of leaders in the Emerald City – a promise land, ruled 7-2 that women in all states should be able to choose abortion for an unintended pregnancy in the first 3 months. The promise land was divided – those who wanted to support and help build these new roads to access abortion and those who just wanted to take these rights away. They knew they couldn’t take them outright so they all met at the Wicked Witch of the Midwest’s house. There, they planned and plotted on how to destroy these new roads. What was very strange was that most of these evil-doers would never even need to walk on these roads, but they wanted to restrict everyone’s access.
According to the Guttamacher Institute (GI) the court’s ruling dramatically reduced the number of deaths resulting from pregnancy. There was a surge of abortion providers, and the number of abortions performed steadily increased. Looking at this chart by the GI we see this increase, but we also notice a decrease in the number of abortions in recent years. Birth control fixed everything, women finally started putting aspirin between their knees and unwanted pregnancy is now a thing of the past? False. The before mentioned evil doers had begun to place restrictions in the road and set up road blocks that increased the difficulty of traveling these roads.
Miss Dorothy, our lovely freedom-loving young girl, first encounters an obstacle when she meets the Tin Man, rather Representative Henry Hyde. Lacking a heart, Mr. Hyde sponsors legislation that prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions. Dorothy comes from a modest background and let us not forget her house was recently destroyed in recent events – she really needs help! How can poor Dorothy afford the necessary procedure to provide her with the life she desires? Well Mr. Hyde certainly doesn’t care. To this day he has yet to find a heart and this restriction continues to cut off access to abortion for low-income women.
The crafty Miss Dorothy meets enough mystical creatures on her journey that contribute to her fund, she must ask strangers because she doesn’t believe her family will approve. What a lonely journey she is on by herself. She continues on but runs into the Scarecrow, who is always trying to scare these women away and clearly lacks a brain. The Scarecrow tells Dorothy that she is mandated to receive counseling prior to an abortion in 17 states and she will be falsely misled to believe that abortion will cause breast cancer, her fetus can feel pain, and having an abortion will cause long-term mental health consequences. If this wasn’t enough, he tells her she must wait 24-72 hours in 26 states after the initial meeting with the provider and the actual provider. As you can imagine, hotels on the way to the city are very pricey and Dorothy really needs to get home to work so she can continue with her life and rebuild her home. All this misinformation and waiting times really puts a strain on Dorothy… it can only get better right?
Nope. Dorothy isn’t exactly an adult yet so when she meets the Cowardly Lion, she is again screwed. Because he is always a scared-lion he believes that Dorothy should be required to ask her parents for permission to make a decision about her own body in 38 states. Since she is so blessed to be from Kansas, she is required to have her parent’s written consent in order to have the procedure. She comes from a broken home so she fears the repercussions she will face about informing her parents of her decision. They might just make her come all the way back home and ground her from walking down the road for the next few months.
On her way back to her destroyed home Dorothy reflects on all of this, time is running out and she has to overcome so many hurdles – not to mention the evil flying monkey protesters that yell nasty things at her show disturbing images to her.
The story I have made up has happened to thousands of women since the passing of Roe v. Wade, it is still happening and Dorothy keeps running into even scarier obstacles, like assaulting ultrasound probes! So while many people make the passing of this law to be a bright and shiny road that is easily accessible in most journeys there are many obstacles to overcome on the way to the City of Reproductive Justice.
With so many capable brick-layers like yourself these days it’s important that we make this a road that is really accessible to all – not just a lucky few. We need to continue to fight back the flying monkeys who try to distract us with all their nonsense and monkey-shit… I’m looking at you Todd Akin. Whether that means removing the Hyde Amendment, finding a brain for our lawmakers, or demonstrating to them that we as women really do understand what we are doing with our bodies and that we are fully capable of making these decisions without their input, we need to keep fighting.
We need a whole lot more than Roe v. Wade. Are you going to help me?
P.S. I’d like to issue an apology for demonizing the Wizard of Oz. As a Kansan, it’s sacrilegious at best.