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the Body Politic
Vol. 8, No. 1 - Jan/Feb 1998, Page 9
Copyright © 1998 by the Body Politic Inc.
Roe v. Wade -- 25 Years After
Interviews With 25 Activists
If you'll pardon the paraphrase from Mel Brooks, "it's good to be the editor," especially when there's a writing assignment and you don't have to write until you've looked at everyone else's paper.
When I came up with the idea of commemorating the 25th anniversary of Roe by asking people to reflect on the past and prognosticate for the future, I hoped they would find this an interesting process. Feedback shows the respondents found it beneficial to ponder on where we are as a movement and society. Many answered from a very personal perspective and that's what I was looking for as I wanted the Body Politic to document the thoughts of pro-choice activists at this time in history.
Those who answered the three questions are a cross-section of our community in age, gender, education, employment, and interests. They include abortion providers, writers, researchers, professionals, volunteers, clinic escorts, and local activists. Some, like Bill Baird and Connie Cook, were highly instrumental in securing abortion rights. Others like 29-year old Nicole Youngman, who writes the Surf's.Up column for the Body Politic, were barely alive when Roe was decided. All of them have a common bond -- they are still committed to reproductive freedom and health care as a cornerstone of women's rights and a healthy, sane society. Some of their responses are linked below -- all of their responses are in the January / February issue of the Body Politic magazine.
Now that I have read all their responses, it's my turn and so here are the three questions asked of 25 people and my answers (which make a bakers 2-dozen).1 What do you think the impact of Roe has been on women?
Practically speaking, the first impact was to de-criminalize women and doctors, (and probably cut off a source of funds to the mafia.) This decision had a profound impact for good on the life and health of women and their families. Unfortunately, over the years women have come to take the right to terminate a pregnancy as part of their social landscape, with little understanding of what went into securing this taken-for-granted right and little historical knowledge about life before Roe.2 Did you think that reproductive rights would still be an issue 25 years later?
As a life-long resident of New York State, I admit that the Roe decision did not have as great an impact on me as on other women because abortion had been legal in my state for three years before Roe. Legal abortion is such a common-sense social policy it didn't seem possible that it would be contested any longer and there was so much else to do. However, as a former Roman Catholic, I knew well the Church's opposition to effective birth control and should have realized they would kick up quite a fuss over legalizing abortion. Even after all my years working to keep abortion safe and legal, I am still infuriated about the amount of time we spend on this issue. The right to control a woman's reproductive destiny should be no more debatable than her right to vote.3 Do you think abortion will still be an issue on the 50th anniversary of Roe?
As a journalist, I have been interviewed a number of times and asked some variation of this question. Since I live in the same area as Randall Terry and watched Operation Rescue "bloom" under my nose, I have to repeat my response: Our opponents have painted themselves into an intellectual and emotional corner from which there is no exit. They can't retreat and are raising up others to follow in their footsteps. The patriarchy-based religions that teach the myth of Women being the downfall of Man because Eve ate an apple, must continue God's directive of punishment for women to bear their children in pain and suffering -- whether they want to or not!
Twenty-Five Pro-Choice Activists answered our three Questions:
1 What do you think the impact of Roe has been on women?
2 Did you think that reproductive rights would still be an issue 25 years later?
3 Do you think abortion will still be an issue on the 50th anniversary of Roe?
Their fascinating and diverse answers are in the Jan/Feb, 1998 issue of the Body Politic.
The following people responded to these questions:
Patricia Baird-Windle Valerie Finkelman Victoria Tepe Tanya Melich Jane Clair Ann Baker Bill Baird Ann Rose Constance Cook Marie Baldwin Wendi Felson Eve Rabbiner Mike Doughney and
Lauren Sabina Kneisley
K Kaufmann Nicole Youngman Betty Head Dallas Blanchard Kelli Conlon Mary Lou Greenberg Mark Levy Marlene Gerber Fried Loretta Ross Sunny Chapman Robin Rothrock More of their answers will be added to this website over time.
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