It was 40 years ago this month that the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in the historic Roe v. Wade decision. This landmark ruling affirmed that the constitutionally protected right to privacy includes every womans ability to make her own personal medical decisions, without the interference of politicians. Four decades later, a majority of Americans including Idahoans still agree with the high court: that personal health care decisions should be left up to a woman.
In poll after poll, the majority of Americans support access to safe and legal abortion in some or most cases. A Quinnipiac poll taken in February 2012 found that nearly two-thirds of American voters support Roe v. Wade, with 31 percent disagreeing with the historic court decision. In addition, a post-election poll from the Pew Research Center found that 64 percent of voters younger than 30 think abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
But interestingly the way people identify with the issue has shifted over the years. No longer do labels like pro-choice and pro-life reflect the way people think about abortion. The fact is, generations of Americans across party lines understand that its just not that simple. We saw that here in Idaho last year when the mandatory ultrasound bill was introduced. Both Republican and Democratic women and men from around the state said medical decisions should be between a woman and her doctor, without the interference of politicians. The fact of the matter is abortion is deeply personal, often complex, and not something that can be put squarely in a pro or anti box. Indeed, the number of Americans who support access to safe and legal abortion is consistently higher than those who identify as pro-choice. And many Americans self-identify as both pro-choice and pro-life, or neither.
What unites us and what doesnt need a label is the shared belief that politicians should not interfere in a womans personal decision about her pregnancy. And an underlying principle to such a complex decision is that none of us can understand a womans specific situation. We dont walk in her shoes.
Undoubtedly, voters made it clear this year that they are opposed to policies that demean and dismiss women. In Novembers election, voters rejected some of the nations most vocal and extreme opponents of safe and legal abortion. Yet, despite the outcome of the election, we continue to fight politicians here in Idaho and across the country who are seemingly obsessed with banning or chipping away at abortion access. In state after state, legislators have put forward bills that seek to limit a womans ability to make her own decisions about her pregnancy.
Just last year, here in Idaho, we fought against two such measures: the mandatory ultrasound bill mentioned above and a bill that would limit birth control access to Idaho women.
These attacks on womens health fly in the face of public opinion and are politically unpopular and extremely dangerous to women and their families. To protect their health and the health of their families, women must have access to safe, legal abortion services without interference from politicians, as protected by the highest court.
At Planned Parenthood a leading womens health care provider and advocate in Idaho we work every day to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and keep women healthy. We understand that a woman should have accurate information about all her options regarding her pregnancy, and that this information should support a woman and help her make a decision for herself. Ultimately, decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child must be left to a woman, her family, and her faith, with the counsel of her doctor or health care provider.
We support women in whatever decision they make this is our promise. Weve protected access to abortion for women for 40 years, and we will continue to protect it for the next 40.
Hannah Brass Greer is Legislative Director/Idaho Team Lead for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest.