By Darla Shelden
Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma (PPCO) recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. On January 22, 1973, with a 7-2 vote, the justices established a nationwide right for women that today is one of the most divisive topics in America.
Anita Fream, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma said, “As a leading women’s health care provider and advocate in Oklahoma, PPCO understands that abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision for a woman to consider if and when she needs it. A woman should have accurate information about all her options around her pregnancy.”
According to a new study released by Pew Research Center, only 62 percent of adults polled knew the decision affirmed the legality of a woman’s right to abortion under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Only 44 percent of those polled under the age of 30 said the case dealt with abortion. Pew says 16 percent of those under 30 thought the case dealt with school desegregation, and 41 percent either said it dealt with another issue or had no idea what it dealt with.
To recognize the anniversary, a special screening of the 1996 parody “Citizen Ruth,” a political satire starring Laura Dern, Burt Reynolds and Tulsa native Mary Kay Place, was held at the Paramount OKC in Oklahoma City’s historical Film Row.
The film deals with the issue of abortion and attempts to subject both pro-choice and pro-life forces to equal ridicule.
Fream said, “The event was an opportunity to commemorate the landmark Roe decision, and to spend time with like-minded community members who understand the importance of access to safe, legal abortion.”
Planned Parenthood health centers across the country provide health care that helps women prevent an estimated 684,000 unintended pregnancies and 325,000 abortions every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2009 approximately 6,430 abortions were performed in Oklahoma.
“A majority of Americans oppose efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade.” said Fream. “Legislators who continue to interfere with a woman’s access to safe and legal abortion do so against the will of most of their constituents.”
Planned Parenthood provides critical services in detecting cancer performing 585,000 Pap tests and approximately 640,000 breast exams each year. Planned Parenthood also provides nearly 4.5 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Seventy-six percent of Planned Parenthood’s clients have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. Ninety-seven percent of the total services were for contraception, treatment and tests for sexually transmitted diseases, cancer screenings, and other women’s health services. Only 3 percent of its total services in 2009 were abortions.
By law, federal funding received by the organization cannot be used for abortions.
According to PPCO, in the 40 years since Roe v. Wade blocked states from banning abortion, it has been one of the safest medical procedures available. In 1965, illegal abortions made up nearly one-fifth of all pregnancy- and childbirth-related deaths.
State Rep. Mike Reynolds (R-Oklahoma City) has recently introduced House Bill 1029, which, if signed into law, would begin legal rights at the moment of conception.
Reynolds said, “Protecting unborn children has been my number one goal since before I ever ran for office and it will continue to be my number one goal after I leave office.”
The anti-abortion measure, known as the Personhood Act of 2013, is similar to the one that failed to get a vote last year in the Oklahoma House. Last fall, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up an Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling that said a proposal to grant “personhood” to human embryos would be an improper ban on abortion.
Fream said, “To protect their health and the health of their families, women must have access to safe, legal abortion services without interference from politicians, as protected by the highest court.”
Kara Joy McKee, External Affairs Coordinator said, “Abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision for a woman to make. You can’t make that decision for someone else. Nobody knows a woman’s specific situation—we’re not in her shoes.”
For more information visit www.ppcook.org.