On 30th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, ACLU Says Laws Already Put Abortion Out of Reach for Many Women

January 21, 2003 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – As the nation marks 30 years since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision establishing a woman’s right to reproductive freedom, safe and legal abortions are increasingly out of reach for many women, the American Civil Liberties Union said today.

Another Woman for Choice

Woman at rally in support of reproductive freedom. (c. 1980)
photo by Donna Lieberman

“”Every year, the gap between who can exercise their right to choose abortion and who cannot is widening,”” said Louise Melling, Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “”It will not take a decision by the Supreme Court overturning Roe to make legal abortion a thing of the past for all but the most privileged women.””

In the three decades since the Court decided Roe, anti-choice forces have succeeded in burdening the right with restrictions that make it harder, riskier and, in some instances, impossible for many women-especially young and poor women-to obtain an abortion.

In the last seven years alone, states have enacted more than 300 restrictive measures:

  • 32 states enforce laws that deny teenagers access to legal abortions unless they involve a parent or go to court.
  • 32 states deny Medicaid assistance to poor women who need abortions to protect their health.
  • 18 states force women to delay their abortions up to 24 hours after receiving state-mandated information designed to dissuade them from choosing abortion.

    This Roe anniversary comes at a critically dangerous time on the federal level as well, the ACLU said. Anti-choice opponents are poised to push through Congress a ban on safe abortion procedures, to restrict still further teenagers’ access to abortion, to elevate fetal rights and to limit states’ ability to protect reproductive choice.

    “”With anti-choice forces controlling the White House and both houses of Congress, opponents of choice are more determined than ever to undermine women’s autonomy and equality no matter how many lives are damaged in the process,”” said Laura Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

    In the face of these attacks, the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, together with the ACLU’s Washington Office, its 53 affiliates, and its 330,000 members, are prepared to advocate and litigate to protect reproductive rights.

    “”We must recommit ourselves to preserving the rights and saving the health and lives of all women by mobilizing against the mounting set of restrictions that leave many women without cause for celebration on this important anniversary for reproductive choice,”” Melling said.

    A special statement from Louise Melling, Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project is available online at /node/24679.

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