Thoughts on the 36th anniversary of Roe V. Wade

 Woman rights
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  January 21, 2009

SPEAKING OUT: Legendary feminist Gloria Steinem and others tell their stories in I Had An Abortion.
As if it weren't sufficiently imbued with meaning that our first African American president, Barack Obama, was sworn in on the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the inauguration of our first feminist president (as dubbed by and debated in The Nation and Ms. magazines) came in the same week as the 36th anniversary of the US Supreme Court's decision on Roe v. Wade, the court case that codified women's right to privacy, and therefore to a safe and legal abortion.

To commemorate that anniversary, the Maine Choice Coalition, along with the Maine Civil Liberties Union, the League of Young Voters, and the Portland Phoenix, are teaming up to screen the film I Had An Abortion at SPACE Gallery on Wednesday, January 28. The film offers honest answers about who gets abortions, and why. It's a frank speak-out film, one that gets beyond stereotypes to acknowledge that while women might feel anything from remorse to relief after an abortion, preserving the right to choose is imperative. (See also our feature article on a book related to the movie project.)

In keeping with the film's mission — to let real people share real truths — we solicited thoughts about the Roe v. Wade anniversary from a handful of people who could address the issue from various perspectives. Here are some of their responses; post yours online at

AS A YOUNG WOMAN who has lived for much of my life with the important rights won by the pro-choice movement, I am still aware that reproductive health care rights can not be taken for granted. I am proud of the efforts Maine has taken — from Maine's efforts to ensure access to emergency contraception to our successful efforts to reject the Bush Administration's push for abstinence only sex-education, Maine has been on the frontlines of these important fights. And with a new era of hope and progress in Washington, DC, we need to continue to work for pro-active actions to ensure Maine women and families — and women and families in other parts of our country and world — hold onto or gain the right to make personal health care decisions for themselves. I believe we need to continue to be vigilant and active. With the current make-up of the US Supreme Court, and conservative activists continuing to agitate to take away women's rights in our communities and the states, we should use this anniversary of Roe as a chance to reflect on the hard-fought progress we can not let slip away.

Hannah Pingree, Democratic Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives

MY WISH for the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade is for us to recognize that a woman's right to choose is her own and not the government's. I urge President Obama to move beyond Roe v. Wade. Americans are facing 21st-century challenges around global warming, food and job security, etc. Together we must focus our time and energy on these pressing issues.

Justin Alfond, freshman Democratic state senator from Portland

THIS IS THE FIRST PRESIDENT who has come out and said he's a feminist. For the first time in my life, I'm not scared of losing these rights.

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