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Why Roe v. Wade Matters

Why Roe v. Wade Matters

Forty-five years ago, in the Roe v. Wade decision, the nation’s highest court affirmed that a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion is protected by the Constitution.

We cannot go back to the days before Roe, when some women put their lives on the line when they needed to end a pregnancy. That’s why the Center for Reproductive Rights defends the constitutional rights of all women and will continue to do so in the battles to come.

Together with We Testify, we recorded the following personal stories of women whose health and future have depended on the rights made possible by Roe.

Kenya, Texas

At 39 years old, I found out I was pregnant. I knew immediately I wanted an abortion, so I called a clinic I knew and trusted to schedule an appointment with the doctor who delivered my daughter and has provided gynecological and abortion services to me as well.

On the day of my appointment, I woke up feeling completely certain about my decision. As I sat in the lobby completing the required forms, I suddenly felt the most excruciating pain hit me out of nowhere. I felt faint, could barely speak, and found it difficult to get up from my seat. The pain was concentrated in the right side of my uterus—it was brutal and relentless. The receptionist took me in immediately for an ultrasound. Read more

Robin, Missouri

My husband Jim and I desperately wanted to have a baby. We tried to get pregnant for four years—enduring two in-vitro procedures, a miscarriage, and multiple failed embryo transfers. We were thrilled when our most recent in-vitro fertilization proved successful. When I found out I was pregnant, I was just ecstatic. I remember being at the window in our house with my husband, both of us squinting at the pregnancy test in disbelief and excitement.

Unfortunately, we discovered after my 21-week anatomy scan that our daughter, Grace Pearl, had bilateral multicystic dysplastic kidney disease. Her kidneys were not functioning, she had no amniotic fluid and her lungs would never develop properly. Three doctors told us our daughter’s condition was 100 percent fatal. She would either be stillborn or would die a painful death shortly after birth. Read more

Stephanie, Florida

Nine years ago I became Jane Doe when I was denied the opportunity to decide my own fate and access an abortion. Because of my age, the government wouldn’t allow me to decide what to do with my own body.

When I was 17, I needed an abortion. I was unable to tell my parents, and because of parental involvement laws in the state of Florida, I was not able to get an abortion without them being notified and present. Though Florida law only requires parental notification, the only way the clinic could prove the person they were notifying was my parent would be by reviewing my birth certificate and my parents’ identification in person. My only option was to obtain a judicial bypass, which meant going to court and having a judge—a stranger—decide whether or not I could access an abortion. The judge had to determine if I was capable of making my own decision to have an abortion, and I had to prove that I was in significant danger if I told my parents. Read more