Happy Roe v. Wade Day, everyone! Forty-three years ago today, the Supreme Court decided that a woman’s right to choose is protected under the Constitution.
That’s not, for the record, because the U.S. Constitution makes any mention of reproductive rights, or uteri, or, for that matter, women at all — the right to choose falls under our constitutional “right to privacy.” (For a wonderful explanation of this, please read Jill Lepore’s New Yorker piece from last spring.)
My generation has only known a post-Roe v. Wade America, and many (hi, Debbie Wasserman Schultz) claim that makes us “complacent” as our reproductive rights are trampled by overzealous state governments.
To which I would respond: Well, we may spend literal days watching Scandal, but looking at all the young women who are leaders in this arena — like Amelia Bonow and Lindy West, who launched the #ShoutYourAbortion campaign — I don’t think that assessment is fair. (Incidentally, if you are one of the six readers of this column who lives in the Seattle area, come to this event cohosted by Bonow, West, and Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest tonight.) And I think we’ll hear a lot more voices like theirs as we gear up for Whole Women’s Health v. Cole, an upcoming SCOTUS case which will review whether Texas’ stringent abortion clinic regulations place “undue burden” on a woman’s right to choose.
This week’s chasers will honor figures very much beloved by my generation who are, like Roe v. Wade, 43 years old. I obtained this information from the sage website “star-daze.com.”
SHOT: What was it like to get an abortion in the pre-Roe v. Wade era? Not that the experience is any picnic today, but these anecdotes from eight women in Ms. Magazine are equal parts heartbreaking and nauseating.
CHASER: Gabrielle “Bring It” Union (b. October 29, 1972)
SHOT: On Tuesday, the 1 in 3 Campaign (which refers to the statistic that one in three women will get an abortion at some point in her lifetime) hosted a livestreamed event in which women described their own experiences with abortion, because “what is missing from this issue are our personal stories.”
CHASER: Elizabeth “Thanks, It’s Ver-sayce” Berkley (b. July 28, 1972)
SHOT: The Supreme Court just struck down an Arkansas 12-week abortion ban — the most restrictive in the nation — by refusing to review the decision of an appellate court that ruled said ban to be unconstitutional.
CHASER: Mark “Nobody Likes You When You’re 23” Hoppus (b. March 15, 1972)
SHOT: And in case you needed any convincing — are you reading this, Justice Kennedy? — that Texas abortion laws place “an undue burden” on abortion rights: Women in the Lone Star State who lack the time or resources to travel hundreds of miles to a clinic often resort to self-induced, medically risky abortions.
CHASER: Geri “Stop Right Now, Thank You Very Much” Halliwell (b. August 6, 1972)
SHOT: When Washington State Representative Mary Dye (R) met with a group of teens advocating for expanded insurance coverage of birth control, she questioned them about their virginity because apparently it’s still 1762 and Chastity Is Our Greatest Virtue.
CHASER: Selma “So It’s Like A Secret Society” Blair (b. June 23, 1972)
SHOT: A new study from the Women’s Media Center shows that men still make up the majority of voices reporting on reproductive rights, which affects the nature of coverage: “The gender of the reporter appears to affect whom they choose to quote and how they cover the story. WMC’s research shows that female journalists quote women more often than their male counterparts, while quotes from male sources predominate in articles written by men.”
If you’re writing about legislation that overwhelmingly affects women, it might be good to — oh, I don’t know — talk to women about it.
CHASER: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (b. May 2, 1972)