Roe v. Wade at 40: A New Generation’s Fight

By Nikki Fisher
ACLU of Florida Field Coordinator

40 years ago today, the Supreme Court upheld the historic decision in Roe v. Wade which recognized that a woman has the right to decide for herself whether or not to have an abortion. My generation often forgets about the important struggle that many men and women underwent to ensure these protections remain a right for all women. But because of a new assault on women’s reproductive freedom, we’re starting to understand how important these rights are and that the fight isn’t over.

As Jennifer Dalven points out on the ACLU’s National Blog of Rights attacks on the right to choose have skyrocketed in recent years, reaching record levels. Politicians in the House have tried to change the definition of rape and some states have passed laws mandating a women undergo an ultrasound and be forced to see images before making the difficult private decision on whether to have an abortion. In Florida, we’ve seen something similar to what is occurring in states all across the country: a state legislature  continuing their assault on the historical rights underlined in Roe.

But across the nation, both men and women have had enough and have told their lawmakers to stop interfering in their personal and private decisions. Despite these clear signs from the American public, some politicians haven’t heard the message.  We will need to keep up the momentum of the past year and continue to make our voices heard if we are to protect the right of a woman and her family to make their own decisions. And we should celebrate our victories.

This November, we stopped Tallahassee politicians from their excessive power grab into medical decisions between women and their doctors and defeated Amendment 6 on November’s ballot, which would have exempted women’s reproductive freedom from the Florida constitution’s guarantee of privacy.  With the help of ACLU supporters across the state, we were able to stop this assault on reproductive freedom, and we once again told politicians to trust women with their own medical decisions.

Another victory for women’s rights is the passage of the Shaheen Amendment. ACLU of Florida President Col. Mike Pheneger worked to lobby for passage of this important change that corrected an injustice faced by our military women.

Numerous politicians who had an extreme view on abortion and birth control were rejected at the polls, and voters in Mississippi rejected a “fetal personhood” amendment that was so extreme many anti-abortion advocates refused to support it. Despite these clear signs from the American public and voters, some politicians still aren’t getting the message.

As my generation celebrates the victories this past year, we have to join forces with the old guard and continue to preserve Roe at the state level and at the federal level. Working with partner organizations, the ACLU of Florida will fight for women in the courts, in the state legislatures, and in Congress. And we ask that you join us in our battle to protect women’s rights. Please join us email network, like us on Facebook, become a member, and tell others about our history.

Roe v. Wade may be 40 years old, but the fight over a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her body and her family is far from over. If we stand together, we can defend the protections of Roe v. Wade for the next 40 years and beyond.


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