Both pro-choice and anti-abortion groups are marking this historic decision, with celebrations or marches, story-telling or protests. For me, the day is bittersweet, for I personally celebrate the decision yet the anniversary brings into sharp relief the fact that women’s reproductive rights, 40 years later, are still under attack.
Then I read the rather surprising results of a recent Pew Research Center poll. Not only do 63 percent of Americans not want Roe vs. Wade overturned, but this percentage has remained roughly the same since the decision was made. The increase in attacks on women, particularly by the religious right, do not represent a change in American opinion. The minority, the 29 percent who want the ruling overturned, have simply gotten louder. And judging from this poll’s results, all that shouting isn’t changing anyone’s minds.
This is indeed something to celebrate. But it’s not a reason to become complacent about defending the rights—and very lives—of women. As we all know, even a minority can make decisions that affect the majority if that minority has enough power. For example, in Missouri and Pennsylvania, this month also marks the beginning of new laws intended to shame women and make abortion more difficult and expensive to obtain.
Forty years later, the battle is not won.
But yet another result of the Pew poll gives me hope. The two age groups most in favor of upholding Roe vs. Wade were baby boomers and the millennials, those between 18 and 29 years old. This is yet another example of the common values these two generations seem to share and a reminder of the importance of intergenerational communication and collaboration on issues that matter—to us personally as well as nationally and globally.
Roe vs. Wade is a boomer legacy, but a legacy is only as strong as the hearts and hands that carry it on.
Photograph by Anna Levinzon.