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40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Kathy Wollner

Health Policy Chair, AMSA

Today is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the historic Supreme Court decision that ensured a woman's right to safe and legal abortion. Unfortunately, since 1963, federal and state legislators have worked very hard to chip away at that right, decreasing access for women throughout the United States through restrictions on insurance coverage; waiting periods; and mandatory, medically unnecessary ultrasounds to name a few. The most significant of these is the Hyde Amendment, which keeps Medicaid from paying for terminations, leaving the poor and marginalized, those often at greatest risk for unplanned pregnancy, with the worst access. In the last couple years, we've even seen attacks on birth control. As future physicians, I believe it is our responsibility to be scientists in the face of ideology and stand up for the health and rights of our patients and communities.

On this day, I'd like you all to take just a little bit of time to read about the current attacks on reproductive health in the U.S., and the new restrictions that have come into effect even in just the last year. Texas actually defunded Planned Parenthood and Mississippi is on a crusade to make sure the state's last abortion clinic closes its doors as soon as possible. This anniversary post on Mother Jones is a fantastic summary, including great research from the Guttmacher Institute, and here's another post on five states we need to be watching in 2013. In case your interested, here's some up to date Pew Forum polling.

Today, I encourage you all to take action in support of reproductive health and rights:

  • Tell your legislators and President Obama how you feel, and visit This is Personal for additional info ways to be involved. 
  • Contribute to Not In Her Shoes a tumblr voicing that no one can walk in another woman's shoes but her and no one else can describe her personal experience. 
  • Check out the 1 in 3 Campaign, which brings stories and faces to the 1 in 3 women who will have an abortion in her lifetime.
  • Get involved with Medical Students for Choice at your school or create a chapter if there isn't one already.
  • Consider holding an event on women's health this semester to educate your classmates on this important issue.

Not into reading today? I've got graphics!

Please stand with me in saying we should treat reproductive health care like health care, by respecting women's decisions in the face of their own unique realities. Take a moment today to be thankful that our obstetric wards aren't flooded with self-induced, septic abortions as they were pre-Roe v. Wade, but also to realize that our past may come around to be our future if we don't take action!

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