AB21 Co-Chair Cecile Richards: Today Should Be the 51st Anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Instead, It’s a Painful Reminder.
Today, on the 51st anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, ELLE published an op-ed from American Bridge 21st Century Co-Chair Cecile Richards on Donald Trump’s pivotal role in overturning Roe and how much is at stake this November with him on the ballot.
Read the full op-ed here.
ELLE: Today Should Be the 51st Anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Instead, It’s a Painful Reminder.
By American Bridge 21st Century Co-Chair Cecile Richards
From the moment Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, it became a target for Republican politicians hell-bent on ending the national right to abortion care. Yet, in half a century of relentless and harmful attempts to dismantle the autonomy of pregnant people, no one inflicted more suffering or did more irreparable damage than former president Donald Trump did in four years.
Today should be the 51st anniversary of Roe—a chance to celebrate a historic decision that changed America for the better, enabling generations of women to finish school, pursue careers, and care for ourselves and our families. Instead, it will be another day of heart-wrenching headlines that underscore the depth of what happens when a right so fundamental to the lives and futures of so many is ripped away.
It was Trump who flipped the balance of the Supreme Court, delivering on a campaign promise and handing anti-abortion activists a win they had been chasing for decades. It was Trump who paved the way for a deliberate, calculated, and ultimately successful effort to strike down Roe. As he bragged last year: “We did the Roe v. Wade thing, which they’ve been trying to get done for 50 years. I got it done.” And it was Trump who opened the floodgates for what came next.
Since Roe was overturned in June of 2022, nearly half the states in this country have banned or severely restricted abortion. The stories are so awful, that it’s almost impossible to comprehend: teenage rape victims forced to give birth, miscarrying women who are turned away from hospitals and told to return when they’re in sepsis, people ordered to carry out pregnancies to term despite serious health concerns. With the Supreme Court poised to rule in a case that could restrict abortion pills nationwide, the cruelty and chaos could get even worse.
All across the country, people are witnessing the tragic consequences of abortion bans and the sweeping impact on our entire health care system. Restrictions are driving obstetricians away from hostile states and causing fewer medical students to apply to OB/GYN residencies, creating dangerous maternity care deserts. According to one study from The Gender Equity Policy Institute, women living in states that have banned or restricted access to abortion care since Roe was overturned are three times more likely to die in pregnancy, childbirth, or during the postpartum period. All of this is unfolding in a country that already has one of the worst maternal mortality rates of any wealthy nation. According to a study published last year by the Journal of the American Medical Association, maternal deaths across the U.S. have more than doubled over the last two decades. There’s nothing “pro-life” about abortion bans.
Is it any wonder that Trump, the likely Republican nominee for president, doesn’t want to own these devastating consequences? His best shot at getting elected this November is to convince voters that he’s really not so bad on abortion, all while quietly signaling to anti-abortion groups that he’ll deliver for them once again as president. This time, Republicans are coming for your birth control and planning to institute a national abortion ban. This strategy has worked for him before. But I wouldn’t put my money on Donald Trump. I’d put my money on us.
In every state where voters have had the chance to decide this issue since Roe was overturned, abortion rights have won. Again and again, voters are turning out in jaw-dropping numbers to elect candidates who unapologetically run on their support for reproductive freedom. Most Americans believe abortion should be legal. We’re not the minority; we’re the majority.
Abortion is on the ballot this year, and voters have a choice. We can find out what it looks like when a catastrophic state of affairs gets even worse. Or we can re-elect President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who believe that health care decisions should be made by Americans and their doctors, not politicians.
These last few years, I’ve been humbled by the courage and resilience of people fighting to protect abortion rights, from abortion care providers doing important work, to networks of determined folks helping to abortion seekers get they care they need, whether that’s abortion pills by mail or rides to clinics in other states. I’ve met fiercely determined activists in my home state of Texas, who tell me they’re not giving up, no matter what. People who have been denied abortion care are so pissed-off that they’re running for office themselves. We are channeling our collective grief and fury into collective action. We have the power to send a resounding message in November; let’s use it.
Published: Jan 22, 2024