On 31st Roe v. Wade Anniversary, ACLU Welcomes New "Freedom of Choice Act" to Protect Reproductive Freedom

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
January 22, 2004 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – On the anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade decision, the American Civil Liberties Union today welcomed the introduction of federal legislation aimed at preserving reproductive rights in America. The “Freedom of Choice Act” was introduced in response to the continuing assault on reproductive freedom for American women, and calls upon Congress to preserve the right to privacy and a woman’s reproductive options.

“Time and time again, Congress has considered legislation that curtails reproductive freedom – the Freedom of Choice Act is the affirmative response to that ongoing attack,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Nothing is more personal than the decisions a woman makes regarding her reproductive health, and the government should not act to limit her options. It is fitting that the Freedom of Choice Act is being introduced on the anniversary of the historic court decision that affirmed a woman’s right to choose.”

The bill, introduced today by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), seeks to ensure that reproductive freedom is preserved for future generations of American women by prohibiting any level of government from enacting measures that deny or interfere with a woman’s right to choose to continue or end a pregnancy. Proponents cite the many restrictions that Congress and the states have passed or considered since the historic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. That 1973 decision found that the constitutionally protected right to privacy included the right of women to determine whether and when to have a child.

Since the Roe decision, there have been numerous attacks on reproductive freedom at both the state and federal level. In this Congress alone, several anti-choice measures have been introduced – including the Teen Endangerment Act (S. 851/H.R. 1755), the “Abortion Non-Discrimination Act” (S. 1397/H.R. 3664), and the “RU-486 Suspension and Review Act” (S. 1930/H.R. 3453). Congress has already passed the so-called “Partial Birth Abortion Ban,” which was signed into law. That measure is currently blocked due to pending lawsuits by the ACLU and other groups.

Just yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee on a party line vote approved the “Unborn Victims of Violence Act” (H.R. 1997), which seeks to recognize a fetus as an independent “victim” of a crime with legal rights distinct from the woman who has been harmed by a violent criminal act. Critics of the measure argue that such measures do little to protect woman, but set a dangerous precedent that undermines reproductive freedom.

A coalition of groups joined with Senator Boxer at a press conference today welcoming the introduction of FOCA. In addition to the ACLU, they include NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Federation, and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

“So many restrictions have been enacted since Roe v. Wade that the right to choose has been placed out of reach for many American women,” Murphy added. “On this historic day, we welcome this measure that recognizes that a woman’s right to choose should remain a federally protected right.”

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