Beyond 39 Years of Roe
An editorial by Rebecca Willman of ACN member Summit Center in Connecticut on the 39th anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in 1973.
Beyond 39 years of Roe v. Wade: Celebrating the legacy of women
39 years after Roe v. Wade, discussions about abortion continue to be provocative no matter where one falls in the spectrum of beliefs. This anniversary is no different than those past, and as Connecticut’s longest standing abortion provider, we at Summit are reflecting on the past and future of abortion rights. This year we ask that you join us in considering the history of abortion from a less popular—but perhaps, more precise—vantage point. Roe v. Wade was not the beginning of women’s access to legal abortion. As far back as history can recall women have been planning fertility and family size, and used have abortifacients and birth control. In the late 1800s and early 1900s in the US, as the field of medicine and science grew, so did control over women’s reproductive decisions. For the first time in 1910, the US outlawed abortion. In 1973, the Roe v. Wade decision legalized what had always been—and what continues to be—women’s birthright. Roe v. Wade however, did not decide this as a fact of natural law, but rather framed it under the guise of “privacy” and professional medicine.
Though we are honored to provide necessary medical care to women who need it, we at Summit know there are centuries more to this story. We know that women have always chosen abortion when they feel they cannot have a baby. We know that most women choosing abortion are mothers struggling to house and feed their current children. We know that women choose abortion because their health depends on it. We know that women choose abortion because working wages and child care options are often impossible. We know that women choose abortion because of unsupportive and/or abusive partners. We know that women choose abortion responsibly. We know that women choose abortion, because naturally and instinctually, they have always been the bearers of life. We know that women are the only ones who can truly know when it is time to bring new life into the world.
As it is their basic human right, Summit trusts women to make choices that are best for them. As it is our personal and professional conviction, we will continue to make those choices accessible and safe in a respectful and welcoming environment. On this anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we choose to not to celebrate the legalities of abortion, but the legacy of women, as it has been our honor to serve them all these years.
Rebecca Willman, M.A.
Director of Counseling & Patient Education
Summit Medical Center
360 Market Street
Hartford, CT 06120