There was palpable social and political turmoil regarding reproductive rights, family planning, and women’s bodies in the year 2013. The Affordable Care Act has made it easier than ever for most women to acquire birth control, Planned Parenthood has remained a model resource for family planning, and Wendy Davis filibustered for more than ten hours to prevent the closure of abortion and health clinics in Texas. It would seem that even more than forty years after the instatement of Roe v. Wade, the public stance on abortion continues to leave our country socially and politically divided.
Are you familiar with Roe v. Wade? Just to review, it’s the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned a Texas interpretation of abortion law, making abortion legal in the United States. According to the women’s history section on about.com, “The Roe v. Wade decision held that a woman, with her doctor, could choose abortion in earlier months of pregnancy without legal restriction, and with restrictions in later months, based on the right to privacy.” The Supreme Court came to this decision on January 22nd, 1973, after which any state laws that limited women’s access to abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy were invalidated. It was a huge victory for women’s rights and reproductive health, but many people – men and women alike – fervently disagreed with the ruling.
Fast forward to present day. With all of the tumult that spawned from pro-life, or anti-abortion, and pro-choice debates, it’s almost as if Roe v. Wade was decided only a year or two ago. Essentially, in more than forty years, opinions about abortions and women’s rights still leave our country, and its primary political parties, truly divided.
Recently making headlines is the Republican National Committee (RNC), and its decision to rework the schedule for an upcoming winter meeting so that members can attend the annual March for Life demonstration, a rally that protests abortion. This is not the first time the RNC (currently headed by Chairman Reince Priebus, with former heads like Republican strategist Ken Mehlman) has illustrated its commitment to pro-life ideals. It’s been a historically Republican stance for decades, and the RNC has no intention of budging on the issue anytime soon.
With Republicans steadfastly opposing abortions, and Democrats becoming increasingly aware of the importance of family planning in relation to women’s rights, it would seem as though the controversial topic will leave our major political parties (and the American public) deadlocked for years to come. Do you see an end to the pro-life and pro-choice disputes happening anytime soon?