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Women’s health needs more than Roe v. Wade to survive in political realm
by Alison Gaulden, guest columnist
Jan 14, 2008 | 770 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Did you ever think our own government wouldn’t protect women’s health? That contractors in Illinois would be harassed for building new health centers? The local Girl Scouts bullied for renting space to Planned Parenthood? It all happened just last year.

Jan. 22 marks the 35th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. But this landmark decision is no longer the guarantee to privacy and reproductive freedom it once was.

Last April, the new Supreme Court upheld an unconstitutional ban dismissing women’s health and discounting women as responsible decision makers.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Court’s only woman, wrote in her dissent that when the Court declared women too fragile to receive all relevant medical information they were returning to "ancient notions about women’s place in the family and under the Constitution – ideas that have long since been discredited." Women are moral decision makers. The majority of Nevadans agree we should invest in prevention, and that the government has no place in the decision when a woman faces either an unplanned pregnancy or a critically complicated one affecting her health.

Another consequence of the ruling is that physicians "risk criminal prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment if they exercise their best judgment as to the safest medical procedure for their patients." This creates a chilling effect on women accessing services. Understand that the ban affects terminations as early as 12 weeks, because Congress determined politicians know better than doctors how to treat patients.

The decision invites Congress and state legislatures to pass further restrictions on abortion. More bills containing unconstitutional restrictions have already been introduced in state legislatures across the country. We expect them in the Nevada 2009 Legislature.

And it’s not just abortion. Women are being denied access to birth control—college campuses have had to triple the price of birth control pills and pharmacists refuse to dispense emergency contraception. One-third of Nevadan women need birth control and cannot access it. Nevada again ranks worst in the country for teen pregnancy rates. And yet Congress has spent $1 billion on abstinence-only education, an approach that has proven to be ineffective.

This Supreme Court came from an anti-choice President who nominated anti-choice justices who were confirmed by an anti-choice Senate majority. The right to privacy and self determination, the right for couples to determine their family size can only be restored by getting engaged in the process, submitting platform planks to the political parties to inform them of the issues, and exercising your right to vote in a way that reflects your values.

Usually Planned Parenthood commemorates Roe with an event, to honor those women who died before Roe and to bring today’s young women into the grassroots movement for reproductive freedom.

Instead Planned Parenthood mobilized supporters to Protect Women’s Health to attend the Presidential Caucuses Jan. 19, 2008. More than 1,200 men and women across the state pledged to go to the Republican and Democratic Caucuses to demonstrate to candidates at every level of office, the Parties and the Policymakers that Nevadans believe our values and policies must protect women’s health, increase prevention and improve sexuality education. Supporters will be wearing a sea of pink "Protect Women’s Health" stickers and T-shirts and submitting pink platform resolutions to both parties, to be discussed at every county convention in the state. And they’ll talk to candidates or surrogates, neighbors and friends about how seriously Nevada takes the need to protect women’s health. See you at the Caucus!

– Alison Gaulden, Vice President of Public Affairs Nevada, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte
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