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Where We Stand: The Status of Choice in 2011

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Saturday marked the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that recognized a woman's constitutional right to choose abortion. This fundamental right has been upheld in numerous court decisions, most notably in the 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. However, anti-choice forces continue to chip away at this right.

In his dissent in Casey, Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote that "Roe continues to exist, but only in the way a storefront on a western movie set exists: a mere facade to give the illusion of reality."

Now, Rehnquist was an anti-choice justice; he didn't believe that women's constitutional right to make personal, private medical decisions existed at all. But in the 19 years since Casey, much of his prediction has been borne out:


For many American women, the right to choose is more of a hope than a reality. And given the legislative landscape, the outlook for 2011 is rather bleak. John Boehner, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is now the most powerful anti-choice politician in the country. Just last week, Boehner called restricting women's access to abortion care one of his "highest legislative priorities."

Anti-choice politicians in the states are threatening a whole laundry list of bills that interfere with women's health and privacy, from abortion-coverage bans to measures that would force women to view an ultrasound before she can access abortion care - even if her doctor doesn't recommend it. There are now 15 states with fully anti-choice governments (both chambers of the legislature and the governor are anti-choice). That's up from 10 last year. 

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, recently gave her assessment of the status of choice in 2011 in The Huffington Post:  

From Washington, D.C. to statehouses across the country, pro-choice Americans have our work cut out for us this year if we're going to protect a woman's right to choose.

2011 is indeed going to be a busy, bumpy year for America's pro-choice majority. But seeing all the terrific posts from Blog for Choice Day last Friday gives me confidence in our strength. 

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