by Caitlin Oliver, NARAL Pro-Choice NC Bachelor Of Social Work intern
Barely one week after the 45th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, Senate Republicans tried and failed, yet again, to pass a nationwide 20-week abortion ban. This recent intensified attack on an individual’s bodily autonomy is yet another reminder of the importance of remembering what abortions were like before Roe v. Wade.
On January 23, 2018, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina celebrated the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade at The Pinhook with a screening of videos of different abortion stories that featured various women who had abortions before and/or after Roe v. Wade. Additionally, there was a panel discussion with NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina’s Executive Director, Tara Romano, and its Advocacy and Organizing Manager, Lynne Walter.
The abortion stories, produced by Moyers & Company, served as needed reminders of past and present barriers to comprehensive reproductive health care. For example, one woman spoke of having to leave her home state of Texas in order to receive abortion care because of recent TRAP laws that had closed many Texas clinics. All of the women in the videos expressed fear that the U.S. will one day return to a time in which abortion is no longer safe and legal.
Since Roe v. Wade, there have been many local, state, and national efforts to restrict abortion. The January 29th, 2018, vote on a 20-week ban is just one of the latest attempts. Another example is the federal Hyde Amendment, which was first passed by Congress on September 30, 1976, and impedes access to reproductive health care by blocking insurance providers, like Medicaid, from covering abortions. In North Carolina, the Hyde Amendment has been used to justify denying insurance coverage of abortion for many North Carolinians, including teachers, members of the military, veterans, Peace Corps volunteers, Native Americans that utilize the Indian Health Service, people who are incarcerated in federal prisons, North Carolinians who have their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and all federal, state, county, and city employees in North Carolina.
The Hyde Amendment disproportionately restricts access to abortion for people of lower income, people of color, young people, immigrants and those who are undocumented, and transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. Ultimately, this threat to comprehensive reproductive health care highlights the reality that economic justice, racial justice, immigrant rights, and LGBTQ+ equality are all key aspects of reproductive justice, as well as vital components of the overall health of the Durham community.
At the end of the event, participants were encouraged to take action against efforts to restrict abortion access in their local communities!