America’s Growing Fault Lines

May 20, 2022

Abortion-rights activists celebrate in front of the Supreme Court on June 27. Photo: Rena Schild Abortion-rights activists celebrate in front of the Supreme Court on June 27. Photo: Rena Schild

by Alice Rothchild

The following is an excerpt from Alice Rothchild’s op-ed, originally published in the Seattle Times.

I came of age before abortion was legal, when birth control choices were limited and not widely available. This meant that every heterosexual encounter was potentially fraught with the risk of pregnancy, the ruining of a woman’s aspirations, an ill-timed wedding, the whispered fears of back alley abortions, more acute for poor women and women of color. I am of the generation that fought for and celebrated the recognition that women have the right to control their own bodies; to choose education, work, relationships, children or not; to live their lives with options and autonomy long denied by biology and culture. We called this progress.

As a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist for almost 40 years, I witnessed women making these very personal choices, each in their own private way. The issue of when life began or the right to terminate a pregnancy was understood to be a deeply personal, religious question. This was not a partisan issue; the Republican Party was pro-abortion rights until 1980, reproductive care was women’s health care.

How did the right-to-life, anti-abortion movement become the banner for our strident culture wars, the call to action for a huge lurch to the right in this country?

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