Fifty years ago Saturday, Roe v. Wade delivered a landmark victory for reproductive freedom in America. The right for women to decide if and when to have children — in accordance with their own family, health and faith — was a vital step in America’s journey toward liberty and justice for all.
By repealing Roe, the Supreme Court’s right-wing majority upended that progress, dismantling a Constitutional right that most Americans have never lived without. Republican attacks on reproductive rights have sold out the American people in service of a dark vision: a country where freedom is reserved for a privileged few.
For years, Americans warned that this would happen if extremists got the chance. Women across the country have courageously told their own personal abortion stories — because they understand first-hand the stakes of this fight.
They inspired me to share my story of a miscarriage that required an abortion to prevent a potentially fatal infection. As I wrote then, abortion bans are designed to inflict a legal and emotional nightmare on patients in need of this basic care.
I shared my story in fear of a post-Roe America. Six months later, it became our reality.
Abortion is now unavailable in 14 states. These laws have subjected nearly 18 million women to barbaric health care restrictions while threatening doctors with criminal charges for simply doing their jobs.
Every day, these laws are forcing Americans through senseless, preventable anguish.
In Texas, Amanda Zurawski faced the risk of a life-threatening infection as she mourned the loss of her pregnancy. Doctors told her that, under Texas state law, she would have to wait until her life was in imminent danger before they could intervene. Days later, she was in the emergency room. On the brink of death and battling sepsis, she narrowly escaped with her life.
In Ohio, a ten-year-old survivor of rape was denied an abortion and forced to seek help across state lines. Devoid of compassion, Republican leaders decided to harass the Indiana doctor who cared for this child in her darkest moment.
In Florida, a court told a teenage girl that she was not “sufficiently mature” to have an abortion — yet deemed her mature enough to endure a forced pregnancy.
The American people have resoundingly rejected the GOP-led crusade against abortion. Nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose the decision that overturned Roe. And last fall, voters across the country stood up to right-wing extremism in favor of reproductive freedom — from California and Vermont to Michigan and Kansas to Kentucky and Montana.
Yet Republicans are still doubling down. Within days of gaveling in the new Congress, the House GOP passed two senseless anti-abortion bills. And now, they have introduced legislation to impose a nationwide abortion ban.
The fight for abortion rights is a defining moment — one that will determine who we are as a nation.
Do we believe in every person’s right to control their own body — to freely make the most personal and consequential decisions of their lives? Or will we allow politicians to seize that power for themselves?
House Democrats believe in liberty, not oppression. We believe in progress for all, not power for a few.
That’s why we voted to enshrine Roe into federal law.
It’s why we voted to codify the right to use birth control.
And it’s why we will continue fighting to advance reproductive justice and defend the health, economic security, and freedom of the American people.
Katherine Clark represents the 5th District of Massachusetts and is the Democratic whip.
Read More: 50 years later: The fight for freedom