Candace Gibson, Resident Blogger (’12, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law)
I first learned about Roe v. Wade as an eager, nerdy, middle school student. No, it was definitely not covered in my history classes and it was barely discussed in my constitutional law class. I learned about it because my Latina mother introduced me to the world of feminism and feminist heroes at a young age. When I first learned about Roe, I was amazed and thought it was the best thing that ever happened to the women’s movement. As each anniversary passes, I’m less amazed and more circumspect about the meaning of Roe. I know now that we have a long way to go before we achieve full equality and justice for all women, including transgender men. Roe is not the pinnacle of our movement, but it is a starting point.
Since Roe, it’s relevance to women’s lives has become somewhat diminished due to relentless political assaults. In 1976, Congress passed the Hyde Amendment, which is an almost total ban on abortion coverage for women who qualify and are enrolled in Medicaid, making abortion inaccessible in practice for low income women of color. It has continuously been reauthorized in each federal budget. Lack of insurance coverage for abortion care isn’t the only barrier for many women. Several states have passed laws to “regulate” abortion care, again effectively making it inaccessible – take for instance TRAP regulations and laws pertaining to misoprostol. Then, we have issues of accessing care – many women live in areas of the country where there are no abortion providers and they do not have the means to travel to the closest abortion provider,sometimes hours away. And’s let not forget about Casey and the “undue burden” standard.
Finally, transgender men who may need abortion care may not receive the care they need because of the lack of culturally competent providers in general for this community, let alone providers who are trained and licensed in providing abortion care. Not to mention the fact that transgender and gender non-conforming persons also face high rates of discrimination and violence, even in healthcare settings.
So yes, let’s celebrate Roe v. Wade, but the next day we need to get back to work.