Abortion rights advocates mark anniversity of Roe v. Wade

Katy Stanton

The days of knitting needles and deformed coat hangers have passed. The danger that a woman faced while receiving an illegal abortion or performing one on herself is no longer an issue due to the 1973 decision of Roe versus Wade. That decision gave women the right to choose, the right to privacy, the right to protect their own bodies. However, some believe that if the current government gets its way, the days of limited options with increased health risks will return. On Tuesday, Feb. 4, the Downer Feminist Council showed an informational video and had a lecture on women’s power of choice.
Most people today see choice, as defined under any circumstances, as an intrinsic right. However, since the 1800s, a woman’s right to control what happens to her body has been in contention. Abortions were legal up until the 1840s. After that, they were illegal, but still available for those with the resources until 1973, when “Jane Roe,” a name given to the plaintiff to respect her anonymity, took her abortion case to the Supreme Court. There it was decided that the right to an abortion was in fact a full-fledged right.
The political climate today seems to have shifted back to what it was pre-Roe. The government supports replacing full sexual education classes with abstinence programs, and the “right to choose” with “the right to life.” The more conservative the political climate, the more precarious a woman’s freedom of choice becomes.
Anti-abortion advocates have a good argument. Indisputably, life for all is best. However, that is not what is being questioned here. The common misconception is that supporting abortion rights means encouraging abortions. In reality, no one likes the idea of having an abortion; life is sacred and respected in our society. The problem comes when the government begins to place restrictions on what a woman can do with her own body.
Allyn Rodriguez, a sophomore who attended the lecture, says that what worries her the most will be the fact that “I will not be able to decide what happens to my own body – they can’t decide anything else about my body, why should they decide this?” The question remains: Where we should draw the line between personal privacy and governmental restriction?
Although there have been a large number of constraints placed upon abortion laws, one option that still remains is the “morning-after” pill. Not to be confused with RU-486, which causes termination at any time and is still illegal in the United States, the morning-after pill has to be taken within 72 hours of intercourse.
The morning-after pill is available on the Lawrence University campus; however, if you need it on weekends, you should contact Planned Parenthood, the Appleton Medical Center, or the physician’s office that covers the health center office during the week. “It is wonderful that Lawrence offers us the morning-after pill,” says senior and DFC member Rachel Koon, “I just wish it was more widely known around campus that that option is out there.”
The morning-after pill should not be seen as a form of birth control; it is for emergency situations only. Lawrence is a “condom-saturated campus” says nurse Carol Saunders, and students should have no trouble finding means of contraception. Not only is there a ready supply of condoms, but the health center offers birth control pills as well. If a student feels uncomfortable approaching someone on campus despite full confidentiality, she can visit Appleton’s Planned Parenthood clinic. Although some states limit the availability of abortions, you can still get an abortion at Planned Parenthood here in Appleton, or at clinics in Madison.
Rodriguez, Koon, and others on campus and around the country express their hope that the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision continues to stand, and that those in power do not take further measures to limit women’s freedom of choice.