Gloria Allred on Protecting Roe v. Wade From a Trump Administration

"We have to be ever vigilant. I do not want anyone else to suffer the way I did from an illegal abortion."
Courtesy of Gloria Allred
Gloria Allred

Roe v. Wade is the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision which held that a woman has a constitutional right to have an abortion at certain stages of her pregnancy. Prior to 1973, abortion in some states was made a criminal act. It was a crime for doctors to provide an abortion, even though it was not a crime for a woman to receive one. Many young and poor women who wanted an abortion were forced to choose between having an unsafe and illegal abortion performed by someone who was not a doctor, or taking a pregnancy to term because the women couldn’t afford to go to a state with legal abortion.

I was one of those young women who prior to 1973 was forced to undergo a back alley abortion. I almost bled to death. I went to the hospital with a 106-degree fever. I almost died. I don’t ever want that to happen to our daughters.

The experience made me more conscious of how laws and the U.S Supreme Court can have a life or death impact on our lives and it has made me more committed than ever to do anything and everything I can that is legal and peaceful to protect women and their right to make their own choices for their own reproductive health.

Our daughters deserve better than what I believe they will get in a Trump administration. The most serious risk involves the President-elect’s nominations to vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court. I am very concerned that President Trump may have an opportunity to nominate up to three justices. He has distributed a list of his potential nominees and they appear to be against a woman’s right to choose legal and safe abortions. They have been called pro-life. I call them the mandatory motherhood group, or compulsory pregnancy crowd.

There is one vacancy now that President Obama wanted to fill with Merrick Garland and the Republican Senate blocked his ability to even have a hearing to decide if Judge Garland should be confirmed as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mr. Trump has stated that he wants to fill that vacancy, created by the death of Justice Scalia, with a person in the mold of Scalia. Scalia was an extremely anti-choice justice.

There could soon be other openings on the court. For example, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is one of my personal heroes, is 83 years old. We do not know how long she will remain on the Court. I am very concerned that Trump’s nominees, if confirmed, could end the availability of legal and safe abortions. If we return to pre-1973 law when many states criminalized abortion, lives will be at risk and women will be endangered.

Mr. Trump recently said that we will just go back to letting the states decide. The problem with that is that the anti-choice crowd has been very active on the state level. We have a legal right to abortion, but in many states and counties clinics have closed because of the burdensome restrictions place on them by state legislatures controlled by anti-choice forces.

I am also concerned that the administration may say that any organizations that provide abortion cannot be eligible for federal funds — even if they are funding abortions through private donations. Such a policy would not only decrease abortions but also other services to women, such as providing pap smears, breast exams or contraception. That will mean that women’s health will be worse and, of course, the number of unwanted pregnancies will substantially increase.

We have to be ever vigilant. I do not want anyone else to suffer the way I did from an illegal abortion. I am concerned that could happen under a Trump administration with a Republican Congress.

There is a march planned for Jan. 21, 2017. It is called the Women’s March on Washington. I plan to attend. I welcome everyone to join me and make their voices heard.

In addition, we are going to need to do everything we can to change the composition of the Congress in two years. We need a Democratic Senate and a Democratic House to put the brakes on some of what Donald Trump may do to our country and our lives.

We need to make our voices heard not just on Jan. 21, but every day. We have sacrificed enormously in order to win rights and protect the rights that we have won. We must continue to speak out, litigate in court, march, protest and be heard because we have so much to lose.

In the words of Mother Jones, the famous labor organizer, “don’t agonize, organize”, and if we do we shall overcome!

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