Opinion: 40 Years After Roe v. Wade, A Pro-Choice Perspective

BY Ilyse Hogue  April 30, 2013 at 5:33 PM EDT

On Tuesday’s PBS NewsHour, we revisit the hot-button issue of abortion, and debate its move from federal courts to state governments. Our guests are Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, and Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

They both wrote op-ed columns for us. You can read Ilyse’s below and Charmaine’s here.


Ilyse Hogue is the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

They’re a sitcom cliché: the nosey neighbors who think your business is their business. On TV, they’re a punchline. In real life, they can be a real threat.

Anti-abortion extremists are the ultimate nosey neighbors. They don’t think your private medical care should be your business alone. They want a say in what you and your doctor decide when it comes to planning your family. Right now, these meddling busybodies are waging a fierce campaign to limit your right to safe abortion care. And in many states across the country, they are winning, and putting your health — even your life — at risk.

For example, in Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback signed a law that could effectively ban abortion in the state if federal protections were removed. That’s right — all abortion, with no exceptions to protect a woman’s health and no exceptions for survivors of rape. And the law doesn’t stop there. If protections were reversed, it could ban stem-cell research and even in vitro fertilization, which would prevent some women, who desperately want children, from doing so.

North Dakota has just banned abortion as early as six weeks. Six weeks: that’s before many women even know they’ve become pregnant. Imagine finding out you’re pregnant and discovering your options have already been taken away. It’s almost enough to make the legislators in Arkansas, who overrode a veto to enact a ban on abortion at 12 weeks, seem reasonable. (They aren’t. Not by a long shot.)

But if any state resembles the sitcom cliché of a nosey neighbor, it has to be Virginia. After a very long fight, they made permanent a series of ridiculous regulations aimed solely at abortion providers with one goal and only one goal: shut them down. The regulations — which abortion opponents claim are to protect women’s health — target such medically “critical” subjects as the number of parking spaces or the hallway width.

The busybodies who push these laws don’t care about the number of parking spaces outside the abortion clinic, and they don’t care how wide the hallways are. Anti-abortion politicians only care about one thing: preventing women and their families from getting the safe abortion care they need. It’s time to tell the nosey neighbors to stop meddling in our personal, private decisions.

Ilyse Hogue is the president of NARAL Pro Choice America and a columnist for The Nation.