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Viewpoint: 40 years later, still fighting

BY CARLY MANES

Published January 22, 2013

Last week, Time magazine published a piece on Roe v. Wade’s 40th anniversary and what the past 40 years have brought in the way of reproductive justice. Though the article made a few unfounded assumptions, it did get one thing right: Ever since this landmark decision was made to legalize abortion in the United States, thousands of restrictions have been made that belittle the hard-won progress made by activists that ensured accessibility to a safe and legal abortion. In other words, women have been losing the fight to control their own reproductive lives ever since they won it just 40 years ago. But the article did make one major mistake: It made the claim, like so many others, that Millennials and young people don’t care about access to abortion care.

That’s simply not true.

I am a Millennial who is fully committed to ensuring safe and affordable abortion access to women all over the United States. However, I’m only one of hundreds on this campus and just one of thousands in the nation.

It’s understandable why some might think Millennials are no longer present in the fight for abortion access. We aren’t just abortion-rights activists like our mothers and grandmothers had been. We are many other things as well. We are students, friends and teenagers. We are organizers, student leaders and social media experts. It’s only because of the generation of abortion activists before us that we can claim each and every one of these roles all at the same time. It’s because of the courageous work of our predecessors that Millennials no longer have to focus all of their energy and efforts solely on establishing the legality of abortion.

Isn’t this what our mothers and grandmothers worked for all those years, so that one day women could take for granted the right to decide when and if to have children? Didn’t they want us to live in a country where women — and men — had access to affordable contraception and, when needed, be assured that a safe and affordable abortion would be available?

To say that Millennials are less “committed” or “present” in the fight to ensure safe and legal access to abortion is simply false. We're out there.

Because we have to be.

Unfortunately, the dreams of our mothers and grandmothers have yet to be realized, so we carry on. We continue to push back against the dehumanizing restrictions of abortion care, the threats to providers and their patients and the efforts to stigmatize and isolate women who get abortions.

Let me tell you about Millennials who are for abortion care. We are passionate, engaged and entrenched in the fight for abortion access. We see that in order to uphold the right to abortion care we must ensure that it's available, affordable and free of burdensome hurdles.

We are not alone. Millennials all over the country are standing up for abortion access — activists, clinic escorts, hotline volunteers, directors of abortion funds, bloggers and more.

To move forward and finally realize the dream of so many decades, we must acknowledge that the world has changed. We are fighting on much different terrain now than our mothers and grandmothers. Millennials are fighting not only to ensure that the legality of abortion remains upheld, but that it’s an attainable reality for all women.

That means that abortion care is affordable, that clinics are easy to get to, that we put a stop to needless hurdles such as waiting periods and notifications, and that we reduce stigma so no woman is made to feel alone or ashamed.

So, I just want to let it be known that we are here and that we are fighting. We will not stop until the dream is fully realized — so no woman ever again has to question her opportunities, values or her future because of restrictions to reproductive choice.

Carly Manes is an LSA sophomore.


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