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3 Strategies for Promoting Women's Right to Safe Abortion Care

Safe and affordable abortion care must become a reality for everyone.

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those who defend the right to choose abortion often frame their defense in terms of protecting  Roe v.Wade and access to abortion services. But far more than  Roe and abortion is at stake. The health, dignity and human rights of all pregnant women are threatened by anti-abortion and fetal rights laws. Such laws create the basis not only for outlawing abortion but also for forcing women to have unnecessary Caesarean sections, for banning vaginal births after Caesarean sections and for treating pregnant women with drug, alcohol and other health problems as child abusers before they have even given birth.

It also helps to be prepared for contentious conversations with compelling arguments and facts.

Anti-abortion advocates often use dangerous and misleading approaches to restrict access to abortion and birth control, and having a counter argument ready goes a long way. This misinformation runs the gamut -- from claiming that the emergency contraception or morning-after pill (Plan B) is the same as the "abortion pill" to asserting that feticide laws, now existing in about 38 states and on the federal level, protect pregnant women, when in reality they are frequently used  against pregnant women, especially those who may have used drugs during a pregnancy. So, staying abreast of facts to counter their fiction is critical and there are innumerable on-line and off-line resources. Here are two:  The Guttmacher Institute and Ipas.

Converting Our Energy

When we gain ground by changing hearts, minds or policies, we have to ensure it translates into action -- securing real and affordable access to birth control and abortion for women and girls.

While we have a long way to go before reproductive justice is a reality for everyone, the looming possibility of an anti-choice administration (and all that this would entail) has serious implications for women and girls in the U.S. and, through policies that restrict the use of U.S. development aid overseas, women and girls around the world. Your voice is important.

Our goals are substantial and clear. We need to become involved -- to educate one another and ourselves on the nuances of abortion rights and access; defend the fast dwindling numbers of abortion clinics and abortion providers nationwide; express our outrage when they are attacked and vilified; demand greater and equal access to all reproductive health services including affordable and safe birth control and abortion care; counter misleading and dishonest anti-abortion propaganda and hold the people behind these tactics accountable for their actions.

Doing this effectively will require creativity, tenacity and abiding respect of all women's realities and circumstances. We're up for the challenge -- are you?

Judy Norsigian is the executive director of Our Bodies Ourselves , a nonprofit women's health advocacy organization that also maintains a daily health blog . A co-author of every edition of the book Our Bodies, Ourselves, she is also part of the editorial team that has produced Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause (2006) and Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth (forthcoming, 2008).

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