Today marks the 43rd anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade that affirmed that the right to privacy extended to a woman's decision to have an abortion, opening up access across the country.
Yet, more than four decades later, it is appalling and disheartening that we are still fighting against politicians seeking to interfere with women's access to reproductive health care.
In March of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the biggest abortion case in decades. Whole Woman's Heath v. Cole, like Roe, is a Texas case, and stakes for access to safe, legal abortion are higher than ever. Individuals in Texas and across the nation face the real possibility of living in a world where abortion is legal in name only.
What is happening in Texas today exemplifies what will become a reality if the Court upholds this law. People are already traveling hundreds of miles, crossing state lines, and waiting weeks to get an abortion, if they can at all.
Findings show that more than 100,000 women of reproductive age in Texas have tried to end a pregnancy on their own without medical assistance at some point in their lives. These women reported they had found it difficult to obtain reproductive health services like birth control because of the economic and transportation barriers they have to overcome.
Access to safe and legal abortion should not be based on what city or state you live in.
The right to make personal medical decisions about abortion should be guaranteed regardless of politics or your zip code.
Data from the Guttmacher Institute show that, 43 years after the U.S. Supreme Court passed Roe v. Wade, states have enacted 1,074 abortion restrictions. From 2011 to 2015, states passed on average 57 new restrictions per year. The restrictions include but are not limited to increase in parental involvement in minors' decisions, abortion counseling requirements, and restrictions on later abortion, private insurance, and medication abortion.
Abortion was legal in New York State before Roe was decided. Today, because of so many years of strong leadership in Albany and New York City, access to abortion is much less restrictive than other states. However, in light of ongoing attacks on reproductive health care at the federal and state levels, it is important that New York State acts as an example of how to protect and advance reproductive rights.
We must be vigilant in ensuring that state Medicaid covers abortion services for those who cannot afford one, continue state and city funding for sexual and reproductive health services, and speak out against any legislation that creates additional barriers to accessing safe, legal abortion. We must also keep pushing for New York State to ensure that reproductive health care is available today and in the future by codifying Roe v. Wade and reconciling critical flaws in New York's abortion law. In addition, we must strengthen protections to make sure that crisis pregnancy centers, which do not provide medical services, can't misinform and mislead individuals seeking legitimate reproductive health care.
New Yorkers overwhelmingly support reproductive rights, as does the nation. Since July 2015, 14 national polls have consistently shown that the majority of Americans not only support access to safe and legal abortion, but also strongly support Planned Parenthood. According to Pew Research Center, 68% of Millennials do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. A recent Bloomberg Politics national poll also found that 67% of Americans surveyed said the Supreme Court was right to rule that individuals have a constitutional right to abortion.
Those who turn to Planned Parenthood don't do so to make a political statement, they do it because they need health care and education. As a leading reproductive health care provider, Planned Parenthood of New York City works tirelessly to make sure everyone can continue to make their own personal medical decisions about abortion without government interference. It is important that abortion remain a safe and legal medical procedure for a patient to consider, if and when they need it. At Planned Parenthood of New York City, we will not back down and we will not shut our doors, no matter what.