The League of Women Voters has had a long history of standing for reproductive rights. The first position calling for choice was approved at the 1983 LWVUS Convention. Since then, that position has been affirmed in many ways, recognizing that reproductive justice is about women’s equality, dignity and basic healthcare.
Not only is the right to a safe and legal abortion a matter of personal freedom, it’s also a major factor in the movements for racial and economic equality. Black women and all underserved communities already experience inequitable barriers and limited access to adequate health care services.
As an ally of reproductive rights organizations, we know that safe access to health care, including abortion, is essential to our democracy. The League of Women Voters will continue to stand in solidarity with all who fight to protect reproductive freedom.
What Is Happening?
The threat to women’s autonomy is a real and present danger. In June, the US Supreme Court, for the first time, took away a protected civil right; striking down the right for reproductive freedom in the Dobbs vs Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Following the Court’s decision, LWVUS released a strong statement of condemnation and concern - LWVUS Statement on the Dobbs Decision. Comments from President Dr. Deborah Turner and CEO Virginia Kase Solomón included “When women and those who can become pregnant can no longer make reproductive decisions for their own bodies, they are no longer equal individuals in our democracy. This harm will exacerbate societal inequalities and fall disproportionately on people of color and low-income communities already facing egregious obstacles to health care.”
Many states, including Ohio, had “trigger” laws that went immediately into effect after Roe v Wade was overturned. In Ohio, the “heartbeat bill” which essentially bans abortion at approximately 6 weeks, before many women even know they are pregnant, became the law. Ohio’s law provides no exceptions for rape or incest. Dr. K. Jetelin, founder of Your Local Epidemiologist and scientist at the University of Texas Health Science Center, has called this a “public health disaster for decades to come.”
In Texas, after extreme abortion limitations were put into effect, legal abortions in Texas did drop. But “legal abortions in near-by states skyrocketed” and the rate of “illegal and unsafe” abortions rose. In Ohio, we are seeing bills introduced to declare personhood from the point of conception. Physicians are speaking out to raise the alarm, that all reproductive rights are on the line: care after miscarriage, in vitro fertilization, and even contraception.
The vast majority of abortions take place prior to the 10th week of gestation.
One in four women will have had an abortion by age 45.
There is No Equality Without Reproductive Rights
In the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, the US Supreme Court famously affirmed that “[t]he ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.”
In other words, for women and others who experience pregnancy, our basic freedoms hinge on our ability to control our reproductive health. Our physical and psychological well being, financial resources, capacity to gain and maintain employment, and even our ability to eat certain foods are all dependent on our reproductive choices.
And in June 2022, the Supreme Court ruled to overturn the constitutional right to abortion.
The League of Women Voters strongly and unequivocally opposes any effort to restrict a women’s ability to make her own reproductive choices, and we stand with our partners in the reproductive rights movement, many of whom are already planning actions to fight back.
Yet the few choices we have are being taken from us, despite the fact that the majority of Americans support safe and legal abortions. In September 2021, the US Supreme Court declined to rule on a Texas law essentially banning abortions and enabling the persecution of those who help them occur. Civil rights groups in Mississippi are currently battling a law banning abortions after 15 weeks that would have a "devastating" impact on Black and low-income women.
What You Can Do
We’re facing a scary, uphill battle; yet there’s so much we can do. Here are just a few steps you can take to support the freedom of choice — and with it, racial, economic, and sex-based equality — across the US:
Stand with Planned Parenthood and other allies in your local events;
Demand that sex-based equity be enshrined in the Constitution through the Equal Rights Amendment
Write Letters to the Editor: LWVUS has provided important guidance from LWVUS on talking about reproductive justice. Remember to remain nonpartisan; focus on the issue.
Support reproductive health organizations and supporters of abortion rights
Join LWVO allies to learn about and promote reproductive rights in your community
Learn about: Self Managed Abortions:
Keep informed about Advocacy Updates/ Trainings
Women’s freedom to choose — their jobs, names, lifestyles, and health care — have been hard-won in this country. We’re not giving them up. Nor are we giving up a concept that all Americans should hold dear: that we are all equal, no matter our race, gender, income, or any other factor.