Guard reproductive rights

Shauna Heckert is the executive director of Women’s Health Specialists

Monday, January 22, commemorates the landmark Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 that legalized abortion for women across the United States. Thanks to the dedicated work of feminists, activists, street demonstrations and the feminist self-help movement, the U.S. Supreme Court was compelled to rule to legalize abortion. Anti-abortion opponents do not have the ability to erase 34 years of abortion knowledge and experience. With abortion technology within women’s grasp, we are not willing to go back to the old days. Let’s work together to keep our rights.

But during the more than three decades of legal abortion, women’s right to choose has lost ground. Regardless of the outcome of the current Supreme Court deliberations on the later second-trimester abortion ban passed by Congress and signed by President Bush, women’s access to abortion is harmed by many factors right now. The everyday reality is that women who lack transportation, a local provider, child care or time off work have insurmountable barriers that are as formidable as a legal prohibition.

There is only one provider in all of California offering later second-trimester abortions for women on Medi-Cal. Although Medi-Cal covers reproductive health, including abortion, rural women have delays. Due to access problems, women sometimes are not able to choose abortion, even though it is a legal right.

There are only 14 feminist, independent, women-controlled abortion providers still open in the United States. Aradia Women’s Health Center in Seattle just closed last month after 35 years. There is no replacement for these providers because feminist clinics live the philosophy that women deserve access to all reproductive health options. Rather than pushing a favorite hormonal birth-control method or failing to support women’s choice to give birth or to learn fertility awareness, feminist clinics support all options for all women. Feminist clinics organize support to overcome barriers women have to accessing abortion services.

Join us January 22 at Women’s Health Specialists in Sacramento for an open-house celebration of the historic decision in Roe v. Wade. From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., we will be dedicating the Dido Hasper Activist Room as a space for meeting, organizing and strategizing.

Help remove the stigma on abortion by talking to your friends, exposing fake (anti-abortion) “clinics,” pressuring our elected officials, supporting feminist clinics and signing up for practical support.