The New Roe

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Originally published at the Huffington Post on January 22, 2013

By Kierra Johnson

The more I sit and consider what the Roe v. Wade decision means at 40 years, the more I am sure that it actually means the same thing now as it did then.
Kierra Johnson

The fight for abortion rights is not, nor has it ever been, about vaginas or babies. It is about power, quality of life, and the role of government. The right to own property, the right to vote, the right to contraception as married and then as single people, the right not to be sterilized, the right not to be enslaved and treated as baby-making machines were all legal battles that women fought and won. Winning the legal right to abortion is but one more of the battles that made it possible for a woman to get a little closer to full autonomy over her body and her mind.

In 2013, the fight for power and agency continues.

Having been born after 1972, I am among the millions of people spared from witnessing the results of back alley abortions firsthand. And yet, like many of my peers and those of the generation that came after, I found myself drawn to do this work. The nostalgia for the 70s is not what propelled me to do my first research about NARAL and Planned Parenthood. Concern about my potential future need of abortion didn’t get me to an informational meeting of the Colorado NARAL. I respected Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, and Shirley Chisholm (and still do) as amazing leaders, but I didn’t aspire to be them or be like them.

It was my 16-year-old sister’s unplanned pregnancy and her decision to parent that catapulted me into this work.

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This post is part of Still Wading: Forty years of resistance, resilience and reclamation in communities of color, a blog series by Strong Families commemorating the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.