Recent news about victims of forced sterilization in North Carolina during the 20th century should give us pause as we commemorate another anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. From the 1930s to the 1970s, more than 1,000 women in North Carolina were inhumanely sterilized without their consent or knowledge in some cases, an atrocity depriving them of the chance and joy of children. Shockingly, at least 30 other states conducted forced sterilizations, including Indian boarding schools in Montana.
Whatever side you take in the vicious debate over abortion, consider this: Roe v. Wade gave women free will over our own bodies. While the decision did not specifically address forced sterilization, it marked a milestone for reproductive justice.
No one likes the idea of abortion. I serve on the board of NARAL Pro-Choice Montana not because I advocate abortion but because I promote reproductive justice, which assures women the right to choose what happens to them. While I believe that every woman has the right to access a safe, legal abortion, I believe strongly in reducing the number of abortions, to live in a world where they’re not needed. This is a goal shared by all sides of the abortion debate.
Imagine no division, just a sure way to reach our collective goal. The way to get there is through prevention and comprehensive health education, access to contraception and family planning clinics, funding for it all and choice.
Mary Ann Dunwell