Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Roe

"You love them in the womb but once they get here, it's a different story."
Gilda Cobb Hunter, South Carolina state legislator

Thirty five years ago today the Supreme Court ruled that abortion is a constitutionally protected right. The only other event of greater significance to American women was the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920 that granted the right to vote.

The weakness of the Democratic party (its unwillingness to truly be a political party) has made the exercise of this right more tenuous than ever. Despite the fact that there is no popular desire to over turn Roe, religious and political conservatives have continually been on the offensive to prevent as many women from having abortions as possible.

Abortion providers have been murdered, clinics have been bombed. States have passed rules requiring waiting periods and ultra sound viewing. "Trigger" legislation is being passed that would automatically outlaw abortion if Roe is overturned by the court. The state of South Dakota passed a law that essentially outlawed abortion in the one clinic where it could be performed, but voters later over turned it.

Women who regret having abortions are now used to justify banning the procedure. Women who don't regret their abortions are treated as if they don't exist.

Anti-abortion forces are on the offense and pro-choice advocates are on the defensive because of the lack of political will to enforce this right. Black women have the most to lose if abortion rights are lost.

Our community is squeamish about discussing sexuality. Incorrect assumptions about religious belief have allowed anti-abortion forces to claim that they speak for all black people. Greedy charlatan preachers and their friends have made a fortune thanks to their conservative patrons.

Make no mistake about it, abortion rights are civil rights and have to be defended.