Reflections on ‘Roe’ (from our Reproductive Health and Justice team)

Reflections on ‘Roe’ (from our Reproductive Health and Justice team)

Fabiola Carrión, a senior attorney in National Health Law Program’s LA office and a longtime reproductive health justice advocate.

We are thankful that Roe v. Wade held that abortion is a right for every person in the United States. However, the Roe promise is still not a reality for those who cannot afford abortion or encounter other access barriers.  At the National Health Law Program, we work towards ensuring that everyone has full access to abortion services – people of color, young people, individuals with disabilities, and many others for who abortion is still out of reach.

Amy Chen, senior attorney in our LA office, and a longtime legal services attorney and advocate for access to reproductive health in Medicaid and Medi-Cal.

We know that the future will bring more difficulties in access to abortion, contraception, and other basic reproductive health services. Yet at the same time, I believe that today’s horrors have also opened up the space for reproductive advocates to not just imagine, but organize and strategize to put into place pieces of the reproductive health world we have always envisioned. It is incumbent upon those of us in the states to push for progressive legislation that can help lay the groundwork for broader systemic change when the nation’s political tide shifts. We also must continue to give our money, time, and other means of support to our sisters and brothers in states where the political climate is severe because of strident opposition to abortion care. They say that after every storm must come the sun; so too in spite of the regressive Trump administration policies on reproductive health we have been pushing back against these past two years, I believe the time is ripe for some truly transformative visions of reproductive health, rights, and justice to come into fruition.

Susan Berke Fogel, director of our Reproductive Health and Justice programs; based in our LA office, Fogel is a longtime nationally recognized health care attorney and advocate for reproductive rights.

Women around the world die from unsafe abortion. My family knows first-hand the devastating impact of losing a young mother from unsafe abortion. In the U.S., however, abortion is extremely safe and effective as recognized by the National Academy of Medicine. While we celebrate Roe v. Wade’s legalization of abortion, we also know it is only a beginning. It still does not guarantee a person can obtain an abortion when they want and need it, or that public or private insurance will pay for it. We know that when a woman wants and can obtain an abortion, her life improves because she – and no one else – can make the best decision for herself and her family. And yet, politicians around the country are actively interfering in women’s lives to make abortion both illegal and impossible. The National Health Law Program fought on behalf of low income women before Roe v. Wade, and we will not rest until abortion is recognized as the basic health care service it is, and until every person – no matter who they are or where they live – can decide when and if they want to be pregnant, to end or continue a pregnancy, and to raise their child.

Candace Gibson, staff attorney in the D.C. office working on reproductive health concerns in Medicaid and private insurance plans.

Roe v. Wade remains a critical milestone in our struggle for reproductive and sexual freedom. However, our work must go beyond Roe to ensure dignity, respect, and self-determination for all people. I believe if we follow the leadership of women of color, youth, and LGBTQ people, we will create a future where every person has the economic, social and political resources, supports that they need to decide whether and when they will parent, and the autonomy and respect they deserve to raise families in a world without discrimination and violence.

Priscilla Huang, a senior attorney in our LA office and a longtime attorney advocating for reproductive justice, immigrant access to health care, and battling racial and ethnic health disparities.

This year, the anniversary of Roe comes the day after our country celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. These two anniversaries are an important reminder that reproductive rights are human rights, and the fight for racial justice is inextricably linked to the struggle for reproductive freedom.

Elizabeth McCaman, staff attorney in our D.C. office is working on federal and state reproductive health policies affecting coverage, access, and care quality in Medicaid and private health insurance plans.

I would not be a lawyer without Roe; it allowed me to pursue higher education and plan my family on my terms. While I am very grateful for Roe, my vision for the future is that no one is dependent upon this case in order to make the reproductive health decisions that are best for them, because abortion will be protected by state and federal statutes!

Hayley Penan, staff attorney in our LA office is working on policy and legal issues to support and advance access to quality health care including abortion services.

As part of the generation privileged to grow up after the Roe decision, it is easy to take its protections of reproductive rights for granted. However, as a reproductive health attorney, I am acutely aware of the fragility of Roe’s protections and their practical limitations—for some more than for others. I envision and will continue to fight for a world where all women are able to make their own reproductive choices and access the best quality care. Protecting Roe is a critical foundation for this goal, but it is only the beginning.

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