The Truth About Roe v. Wade

A must-read piece in the New York Times, written by an 80-something doctor who remembers what life was like before Roe. It’s a good reminder of what we have (blessedly) left behind — but what anti-choicers would like to turn us back to. He details the gruesome effects of illegal abortion, but I want to highlight his concluding statement:

It is important to remember that Roe v. Wade did not mean that abortions could be performed. They have always been done, dating from ancient Greek days.

What Roe said was that ending a pregnancy could be carried out by medical personnel, in a medically accepted setting, thus conferring on women, finally, the full rights of first-class citizens — and freeing their doctors to treat them as such.
This is not about ending abortion — it’s about whether women are first-class citizens, deserving of full human rights. Abortion exists. It has always existed, and it probably will always exist. We know what decreases it — contraception; sexual health education; healthy views of sex as a responsibility and a pleasure, not a shame — and we know that the policies promoted by anti-choice groups increase it. We know that illegalizing it doesn’t make it go away. But it does create situations like this:

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