It has been 42 years since the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which ruled that a woman’s decision to have an abortion is protected by the constitution.
Almost 20 years later, Roe was upheld but modified. Planned Parenthood v. Casey strengthened the argument that there is a state interest to regulate abortion after the first trimester; however, that interest must not place a substantial obstacle in the way of a woman seeking an abortion.
And here we are in 2015, where states, including Ohio, have enacted a total of 231 abortion restrictions over the past four years. All of them promoting government intrusion into the lives of thousands of women and their families, with no sign of stopping anytime soon.
Roe is about so much more than just abortion.
The case not only extended constitutional protection to a woman who seeks to obtain an abortion, but also contributed to the strengthening of liberty and privacy in order to prevent government intrusion.
It ruled that a woman’s personal decision to take her reproductive future into her own hands is constitutionally protected. The emphasis is on the woman’s ability to decide rather than the outcome of the decision.
Read our testimony against failed Ohio House Bill 248 ACLU of Ohio’s testimony.
Though Planned Parenthood v. Casey created the opportunity for states to promote their own interests into a woman’s decision to end a pregnancy or not, at the core of the ruling is the acknowledgement that a decision should be available and ultimately comes from the woman—not from the government.
Thanks to Roe, we understand that pregnancy is a complex topic in order to recognize the magnitude of decision-making that takes place. We can value the ability to decide by making all types of options available for women and their families rather than becoming more restrictive. And we can demonstrate our empathy towards women and their families by trusting their instincts to decide what’s best for them.
There’s more we can do to transition into a new era of reproductive freedom since Roe:
- Encourage unbiased sexual education, so our children are prepared to make their own decisions.
- Support birth control because it allows women and their families to plan their futures.
- Listen to the women who exercised their constitutional right to an abortion and do not shame them.
Let’s focus on this type of a future, while remembering that reproductive freedom is a matter of liberty and privacy.