Although today marks the 45th anniversary of the monumental Roe v. Wade decision, a woman’s right to choose when, or if, to become a mother continues to be challenged and restricted. In fact, exactly one month before the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 214 into law. Discussed in “Ohio Moves to Ban Abortions for Down Syndrome,” this bill makes it illegal for Ohio doctors to perform an abortion if a woman knows the fetus has a Down syndrome diagnosis. Just as the decision of Roe v. Wade sparked a new wave of women’s rights and feminist thinking, it also had the reverse effect: mobilizing anti-abortion advocates to limit women’s access to abortions everywhere. As Supreme Court Justice Ruther Bader Ginsburg said, “The court gave opponents of access to abortion a target to aim at relentlessly.” 45 years later, a new generation continues the ongoing fight to protect a woman’s constitutionally protected right to choose.
Until Roe v. Wade, abortion in many states was illegal and inaccessible unless the following situations were present: the health of the woman was at risk, the pregnancy was a result of sexual assault, or a fetal anomaly was detected. However, with the Supreme Court’s landmark decision, abortion across the nation became legalized in 1973. In addition to legalizing abortion, the Roe v. Wade decision also implied that the fundamental right to privacy extended to women’s health.
Setting precedence for abortion access and the fundamental right to privacy in women's healthcare, Roe changed the conversation surrounding women's rights and feminism.
In a 2017 Quinnipiac University poll, 70% of Americans agreed that they did not think Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Yet, in Ohio, it seems as if the never-ending “bans” and “bills” shows Ohio legislators’ true desire: to undermine the power of Roe v. Wade once and for all. As “Ohio’s 20-week Abortion Ban Takes Effect Today” notes, the new “20-week abortion ban,” effective in March 2017, prohibits doctors from performing abortions if a woman is determined to be 20-weeks along in her pregnancy. In addition, Kasich’s most recent signature put into effect a bill prohibiting Ohio doctors from performing abortions if the reason was due to a fetal Down syndrome diagnosis. However, the fight to weaken Roe v. Wade in Ohio does not stop there. This month alone, the legislature has already held committee hearings regarding Fetal Remains and The Method Ban.
Despite the never-ending parade of restrictions on abortion in Ohio, the spirit of Roe continues.
Through testimonies, marches, protests, and petitions, committed advocates help move the fight forward to protect a woman’s choice. We will continue to speak out and prioritize our reproductive justice work from one Roe anniversary to the next.
As Gloria Steinem once said, “The question is not pro-abortion or anti-abortion, the question is who makes the decision: a woman and her physician, or the government.”