Do You Trust Women to Make Their Own Choices About Reproductive Healthcare?

January 19, 2011

The majority of sexually active adolescents and adults in the United States use birth control and are in favor of women being able to make their own reproductive health decisions. Despite this support, opponents of family planning and women’s rights have tried to assert themselves as the true moral voice — and have made political gains that severely threaten women’s health.

This year, as women’s health advocates celebrate the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade on Jan. 22, the Silver Ribbon Campaign to Trust Women for Reproductive Rights and Justice has emerged as an opportunity to show our strength and claim our rights to the legal healthcare to which we are entitled.

The Silver Ribbon Campaign is the effort of dozens of organizations — including Our Bodies Ourselves — committed to prioritizing science over ideology and offering full support for reproductive healthcare; free access to birth control; and keeping abortion legal and accessible.

You can take part by spreading the word through Twitter and Facebook and by wearing a Trust Women Silver Ribbon from Jan. 22 – Feb. 22. Make your own or make a donation to one of the participating organizations to receive a ribbon.

At OurSilverRibbon.org, you can also share your story and stay up to date on action items submitted by partner organizations, including an effort by Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California to make prescription birth control available without a co-pay. Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health is featuring an Abortion Provider’s Declaration of Rights that you can sign to show your support for the thousands of medical professionals who perform abortions.

Ellen Shaffer, co-director of the Center for Policy Analysis, and Dr. Sophia Yen, a pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist, wrote a piece this week at the Huffington Post that lays out how politicized the right to reproductive healthcare has become and the various ways in which both the current administration and abortion opponents have restricted access.

Most adults use or have used birth control. However, even the best birth control fails one time in a hundred. Half of all pregnancies are unplanned. At least a third of U.S. women have an abortion during their lives. Most adults believe that abortion care, a legal procedure. should be covered by health insurance as part of reproductive health services. 86% of employer-based health plans currently cover abortion. In these hard economic times, it is crucial that families have the choice whether to bring a child into the world.

But abortion has been stigmatized by a well-organized, well-funded minority movement, including extremists who provoke violent acts. Our reproductive health is used as a wedge issue, seizing on voters’ anxieties about the economy and social issues to claim support for the regressive, anti-woman, anti-self-determination ideology of the right.

We saw a pro-choice president sign laws restricting access to abortion in at least three different ways: In the health care reform law, an executive order, and a regulation on state health plans. Despite the obvious fact that contraception is prevention, the Administration felt compelled to convene a panel to determine if contraceptives count as preventive care.

87% of counties now have no abortion providers. The burden falls hardest on the most vulnerable.

In their conclusion, they note that those of us who trust women are the majority, and it’s up to us to demand our rights.

“Trust women” was a motto adopted by Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider who was murdered on May 31, 2009 by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder. Tiller’s strong commitment to the ability of women to make their own decisions in consult with their doctors and families is a powerful and lasting legacy. Joining the Silver Ribbon is one step toward ensuring we don’t take any more steps back.

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