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Commentary: With court appointments and GOP legislatures, Roe vs. Wade is under attack

Abortion rights
Abortion rights demonstrators rally outside of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C., in March 2020.
(Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press)

When I was born in 1975, Roe vs. Wade was already two years old. The “right to choose” to get an abortion is something I have known my entire life. To some extent, I — like many women of my generation — took this right for granted. It felt like part of the fabric of our lives. It felt like a fight that we had already won. It felt like we could move on to the next hill.

How wrong we were.

At this moment — 48 years after Roe vs. Wade became the law of the land — our support is all too urgent and critical. Because women’s reproductive rights in America are under attack.

Americans overwhelmingly support the rights protected by Roe vs. Wade: the right to privacy and the right to reproductive freedom, including safe and legal abortion care. Despite this support, Roe vs. Wade has never been more at risk than it is today.

Since 2016, Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed hundreds of laws restricting reproductive healthcare and the federal government has mounted an onslaught of attacks on women’s reproductive rights. Over the last four years, the Trump administration reinstated the global gag rule, implemented the Title X domestic gag rule and enabled employers to deny insurance coverage for birth control for nearly any reason.

It has been chilling. There have been moments when it felt like I was trapped in a flashback scene from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” right before they freeze my bank account, restrict my movements and stick me in a crazy red dress.

Blessedly, Trump left the White House on Jan. 20, President Biden is poised to reverse many of these harmful policies and no one is coming to take my measurements for that dress. But the legacy of Trump’s judicial appointments looms large. With a now firm anti-choice majority on the Supreme Court, the threat of overturning Roe, criminalizing abortion and punishing women who choose to get one, remains real and immediate.

So, where does that leave me? Less than 24 hours after Biden’s inauguration, I am filled with joy and a palpable sense of relief. It feels like our nation has turned a corner on this as with so many other critical issues. I am also clear-eyed about the serious challenges that we face and I am galvanized to meet them. We must continue to fight for women’s reproductive freedom — here in California and all across the country. We must build our power by electing more champions, up and down the ballot and in all 50 states.

This fight is about protecting a woman’s right to choose, a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body. And it is about more than that. Reproductive freedom is core to a woman’s economic freedom, her access to opportunity and — as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg noted — her fundamental dignity.

The writer represents the 74th Assembly District, which includes Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Laguna Woods and parts of Huntington Beach and Irvine.

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