By Michelle Casey
Last year, we watched in anguish and disbelief as anti-abortion rights activists and politicians celebrated the overturn of Roe v. Wade. In a country that claims to hold personal freedom and bodily autonomy as preeminent, fundamental rights, it is chilling to witness concerted efforts to undermine the very essence of these freedoms playing out against the backdrop of a growing public health crisis.
Restricting sexual and reproductive health care – including access to abortion – has always been about power and control. Forcing individuals to carry pregnancies to term against their will strips them of their bodily autonomy, mental well-being, and economic stability. And yet, across the country, politicians continue to impose draconian restrictions on abortion, depriving individuals of their agency and treating them as incapable of making informed choices about their lives and futures. Many of these politicians will never endure the physical, emotional, and financial burdens of pregnancy, childbirth, and child raising.
It is essential to recognize that reproductive freedom is a social justice issue, intimately connected to the fight for equality and autonomy. Anti-abortion legislation serves only to maintain systems that disproportionately burden marginalized communities and perpetuate cycles of poverty and inequality. This legislation most deeply impacts members of the Black Community, the Indigenous Community, People of Color, people struggling to make ends meet, people with disabilities, young people, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and people living in rural areas. It exacerbates the maternal mortality crisis we are experiencing in our country.
We all deserve compassion, understanding, and the freedom to make decisions about our lives and futures. Abortion, like any other medical decision, is deeply personal and complex. It should be made free from the intrusion of overreaching lawmakers who blatantly disregard the intricate circumstances that surround each pregnancy under the guise of moral piety.
Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York and our allies across New York State will never back down from the fight to create a world where freedom and bodily autonomy is guaranteed to everyone – especially the most vulnerable among us.
Here are just a few things we accomplished post-Roe:
- We hired an Abortion Navigator to assist patients who are traveling here from across the state or from across the country to help book abortion appointments, make travel arrangements, and work with patients to pay for their care.
- We’re building capacity to make sure that we have resources available to account for increased technology, staffing, and appointment times needed to meet increased demand for services.
- We organized and/or participated in more than 15 rallies with thousands of people to continue to raise awareness.
- We assembled almost 2,000 abortion care packages with our volunteers to share with patients receiving abortion care.
- We raised funds through major gifts, appeals, events, grants, and more!
As we reflect on the past year, we recommit to our mission. We are steadfastly dedicated to ensuring we are all able to make decisions about our sexual and reproductive health – including if and when to become pregnant and if and how to terminate a pregnancy – without physical, economic, emotional, or political interference.
Thank you all for being In This Together.