Week in Review 1-18-2019

Tuesday marks the 46th anniversary of Roe v Wade. This landmark 5-2 Supreme Court decision changed the lives of women and families across the country. The Court said that the "right of personal privacy'' is broad enough "to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.''  The decision gave women the legal right to seek and have an abortion.

Sixteen years later there was no longer a majority of justices on the Court who favored protecting abortion rights. The Court ruled 5-2 to uphold a Missouri law that restricted access to abortion (Webster v. Reproductive Health Services). The significant shift in the Court indicated that safe and legal abortion would not always be a guaranteed right in this country. 

At that time, Justice Harry Blackmun said, ''I fear for the future.'' He went on to say, ''The signs are evident and very ominous, and a chill wind blows.'' It was at that moment in 1989 that JAC decided to incorporate reproductive freedom as one of its core issues.

Today's Court is even less friendly towards abortion. President Donald Trump has pledged to appoint anti-choice judges - and he has. With an aging court, there is great likelihood that there will further be vacancies.

Trump has packed the lower courts with anti-choice judges. With the battle to restrict women's rights shifting to the states, anti-choice legislators will have judicial friends on the lower courts to uphold these punitive bills. Last year, 15 states adopted 27 new restrictions on abortion and family planning.

We celebrate Roe v Wade - but with caution. Our reproductive rights can never be taken for granted. The fight continues. We must remains vigilant on the state and federal level to support and elect candidates that will protect reproductive freedom for  all families. 

Special note on the Women's March: JAC, along with many other organizations, will not officially participate in nor endorse the Women's March due to reports of anti-Semitism expressed among the group's leaders. It is up to each individual to decide whether to join the march or alternative activities. We still feel it is critical that women continue to make their voices heard on reproductive rights and other issues while also standing up against all forms anti-Semitism. 

Source: Guttmacher Institute