COLUMBIA – For the past 35 years, American women have legally been able to have abortions. Tuesday marks the anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
Abortion-rights supporters of Columbia will host events Tuesday and throughout the week to mark the anniversary and raise awareness about the need to keep abortion access in mid-Missouri.
Tuesday• Street Visibility Celebrating 35 Years of Choice 11:30 – 1 p.m., Corner of Broadway and Providence Road • Table event on the Hyde Amendment 9 -3:30 p.m., Hulston Hall, MU
Wednesday• Myths and Facts – Understanding the Medical Side of Abortion 12 p.m., Nursing School, S255, MU
Thursday• Safe Sex Blitz 11:30 – 1 p.m., Speaker’s Circle, MU • Pro-Choice, Pro-Faith Roundtable; 5:30 p.m., Hillel House, MU
Friday• Evening Celebration of 35 Years of Choice with Live Music and Food 6 p.m., The Blue Note, 17 N. Ninth St. Attendees are encouraged to bring an appetizer or dish to share. For more information about these events, please contact Kristin Walle at Columbia Planned Parenthood, 443-0427.
Meanwhile, a Columbia organization opposed to abortion said that while no counter events are planned, the anniversary is a solemn one.
The first celebratory event will begin at lunchtime on Tuesday when residents will gather with signs and hot chocolate at the intersection of Broadway and Providence Road.
Celebration is important, said Michelle Trupiano, lobbyist and public affairs manager for Columbia Planned Parenthood, because “the right to choose a safe and legal abortion is attacked every day. We need to remain aware and energized to keep up the fight.”
Across the U.S., 88 percent of counties do not have an abortion provider, Trupiano said. Abortion is currently available at three clinics in Missouri: in Columbia, St Louis and Kansas City.
A law was passed in 2007 that aimed to close the clinic in Columbia, Trupiano said. The law, currently tied up in court, would require expensive renovations before the clinic would be able to continue to provide surgical services.
“Women often drive two to three hours for abortion access,” Trupiano said. “Yes, abortion became legal, but ever since ... it has been under attack and access to it is minimal.”
The Hyde Amendment, a 1976 law that removed abortion from the list of covered health expenses for low-income women on Medicaid, is another ruling that will be highlighted during Columbia’s Roe v. Wade anniversary week. All day Tuesday in Hulston Hall, members of the MU chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice will be providing information about the amendment and the petition to rescind it. “The petition that we are having people sign is just going to be asking them to ask their senator or representative to repeal the Hyde Amendment and make them aware of the problems that (it) causes for low-income women,” said Lauren Sandweiss, the organization’s vice president.
In addition, Sandweiss said students will provide information about Roe v. Wade, distribute cupcakes and answer questions.
Not everyone, however, considers it a day of celebration.
Denia Fields, interim executive director for Open Arms Pregnancy Resource Center of Columbia, said the day Roe v. Wade was decided was “a sad day in our country. It changed the outcome for families ever since. It obviously determined how most people viewed the issue of life and the sanctity of human life.”
Despite the fact that Fields opposes Roe v. Wade, she says her organization will not be conducting any anti-abortion rallies or protests in response to the celebrations. Because they want the women seeking help to feel safe, Fields says, Open Arms does not participate in protests or oppositional activities.
Roe v. Wade Timeline of Events
By KATE GENELLIE
Attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington filed suit on behalf of their client, Norma L. McCorvey (then called “Jane Roe” to protect her anonymity), against the state of Texas. McCorvey was attempting to seek an abortion. Henry Wade, Dallas County‘s District Attorney, represented Texas. The court ruled in McCorvey’s favor.
Roe v. Wade was brought to the Supreme Court and in a 7-2 decision the court struck down Texas’ abortion laws. They were considered in violation of the 14th Amendment.
In Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth, Planned Parenthood represented two Missouri-licensed physicians and argued against Missouri abortion statutes such as those that required spousal or parental consent.
Congress passed the Hyde Amendment, which removed abortion from the list of covered health expenses provided to low-income women by Medicaid. Due to the amendment, Medicaid will only provide funds for abortion in cases of rape, incest or when the woman’s life is in jeopardy.
Doctors employed by the state of Missouri and several private non-profits brought Webster v. Reproductive Health Services to the Supreme Court contesting the constitutionality of several Missouri laws; most notably the law that prohibited the use of public employees or public facilities when performing abortions. The court upheld the Missouri law and opened up an area of legislation, wherein states could control abortion rights, previously considered off-limits under Roe v. Wade.
Much like the case of Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey contested the constitutionality of several Pennsylvania abortion laws, including spousal and parental notification. However, in this case, some statutes were struck down and others were upheld. The court ruled that spousal notification was unconstitutional, while parental notification was not.
Gov. Matt Blunt convened a task force to look into abortion issues. The task force is made up of abortion-rights opponents and Blunt has said, as previously reported by the Associated Press in the Columbia Missourian, that “(He) certainly would begin with the presumption that abortion has a negative impact on Missouri children, Missouri women, Missouri men, because it’s harmful to society.”