As a current undergraduate, I can’t remember a time that access to safe and legal abortion was not the law of the land. Don’t be fooled – I don’t take this right for granted. Our grandmothers, our mothers, our communities fought for this right so that I would be able to make my own decisions about my body. Growing up in the wake of Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that protects this right, has made me appreciate what my generation has and how essential it is for me to continue the fight for reproductive freedom. 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 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 2011, 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 like us 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 Those outdated labels don’t come close to defining who we are or the complexity of this issue.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. And it doesn’t stop there.
For us, 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. We are a generation that is invested in being intersectional, not just in theory and passion, but also in action. 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 lead Students Advancing Sexual Safety and Empowerment (SASSE), just one of the more than 200 campus groups across the country within the Planned Parenthood Generation Action network, focused on harnessing the power, energy, and enthusiasm of young people to fight for reproductive freedom — and for fundamental justice for all. We have been working with Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse region for almost two years.
As we look ahead to our ongoing fight against these attacks on women’s health care access across the country, we need your help in uplifting the voices of young people who demand reproductive freedom. 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. The Planned Parenthood Generation Action network is the platform to make this happen. Help us make the Planned Parenthood Generation the generation that puts an end to the attacks on safe and legal abortion once and for all.