As someone born after 1973, which was the year the Supreme Court legalized abortion in America, I’ve grown up in a country where women have the right to make their own reproductive decisions, but I don’t take this for granted. Our grandmothers and mothers fought so that I would be able to make my own decisions about my body. Growing up in the wake of Roe v. Wade has made me appreciate what my generation has and how essential it is to continue the fight for reproductive freedom. We are reminded of horror stories of illegal abortions obtained by women in the generations before us, a scary reality that we’ve never had to live. And as we honor the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the right to safe and legal abortion has never felt more important to me than it does now.
There have been more legislative attacks on our reproductive freedoms in the last three years than in the entire previous decade. Using bogus claims of protecting “women’s health and safety,” politicians across the country have been chipping away at our reproductive rights, state by state. Since 2010 more than 200 restrictions on abortion access have become law, and 70 of these new restrictions have passed in 2013 alone. The result: More than half of women of reproductive age are living in states where access to abortion is being restricted by their state legislatures. Make no mistake: Safe and legal abortion is under attack.
I adamantly oppose these unprecedented efforts to turn back the clock on women’s health, and I’m not alone. In fact, six in 10 young Americans believe abortion should be available in all or most cases, and 68 percent believe it should be available in their own community.
This fight isn’t about being “pro-choice” or “pro-life.” Those outdated labels don’t come close to defining who we are or the complexity of this issue. Instead of talking about what divides us, let’s talk about what we can agree on. What the majority of us do agree on is that these are decisions that should be left to a woman and her doctor.
Reproductive freedom is not just about abortion; it’s interconnected with the spectrum of social justice issues we care about. It is impossible to discuss access to abortion without addressing poverty, racism, discrimination against immigrants and the range of issues that impact our ability to truly make the decisions that are best for ourselves, our families and our communities. Some of us have come to care about abortion through our passion for other issues like LGBTQ and immigrants’ rights. But regardless of how we entered this fight, we’re here to stay.
Although we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, it’s our responsibility to create a new reality for sexual and reproductive freedom. That’s why I am a leader in UCSB’s VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood chapter and part of the Planned Parenthood Generation, just one of the more than 200 campus groups across the country focused on harnessing the power, energy and enthusiasm of young people to fight for reproductive freedom and fundamental justice for all.
As we look ahead to our ongoing fight against these attacks on women’s health care access across the country, we need your commitment. We know that in order for this fight to be successful it has to be not only interconnected with other social justice issues, but intergenerational. Help us make this generation the generation that puts an end to the attacks on safe and legal abortion once and for all.
VOX meets Wednesdays at 8 p.m. at the SRB.
Ali Jimenez is a fourth-year political science major.