Tuesday marks the 46th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide. Today, Roe is under continued attack. If the law were overturned, millions of women would lose abortion access, putting their lives at risk.
Two Philadelphia women share how they made the choice to end their pregnancies, “with support from our loved ones and our doctors, and free from government intrusion.”
Jennifer Brank, 42, South Philadelphia
Twenty-two years ago, I had an abortion at Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania. My boyfriend and I were 20 years old and we were both working multiple jobs putting ourselves through college. We knew it was the right choice for us. It’s Roe v. Wade that allowed us to make that choice. It is scary that with the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and over 400 abortion restrictions enacted in states across the country since 2011, abortion access is under extreme threat.
My story is not unique. Nearly one in four women in America will have an abortion by age 45. Abortion is basic health care and should remain safe, legal, and funded. Yet, we see antiabortion politicians continue to push unconstitutional, anti-women’s health policies.
Now, 22 years after my abortion, my boyfriend and I are still together and he is my husband. We have multiple advanced degrees. We live a good, secure life. My background is working class and I used Planned Parenthood for my health services before and after my abortion, when I had no insurance and no money.
From a scared teenager to a nervous young adult, to now a successful woman, access to the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion, has been an important part of my story and should remain an option for all women.
Signe Espinoza, 25, North Philadelphia
I count myself extraordinarily fortunate. I am graduating soon with a master’s degree in public health. My husband graduated from law school last year, and I am planning on running for public office in the future. None of these things would have been possible had I not had access to Planned Parenthood.
I am a proud Latina. I grew up on fried pork, ketchup, and arroz con gandules. Unfortunately, I also grew up with the understanding that discussing reproductive health is taboo. I had to educate myself about reproductive health and justice as an adult. While in college, I met and began dating the man who is now my husband. During sophomore year we got pregnant, and I was afraid and ashamed. All I could think about were the sacrifices my parents made for me to be in college.
I made the decision to have an abortion because I value life. I was able to decide due to Roe v. Wade. On this anniversary of Roe, I am looking to the past and the future. I am reflecting on the people who got abortions in unsafe conditions prior to Roe. I am thinking about my future daughter who may need to get a safe, legal abortion in her lifetime. I am concerned about the people who may need abortion services now and are not able to access abortion care due to the many antiabortion restrictions in Pennsylvania and across the country, thanks to politicians trying to play doctor.
Roe is under attack, now more than ever, and all I can think about is how cruel it is to restrict access to basic health care from people who need it. These attacks are going to disproportionately affect women of color, like me. And they are out of touch with most Americans. The truth is, we probably all know someone who has had an abortion, and the majority of Americans do not want Roe overturned. Yet, lawmakers boldly attempt to reverse Roe. If anti-reproductive health legislators continue to deny our right to health care, including abortion services, we must vote them out.
Signe Espinoza is in her last quarter at Drexel University, completing a master’s degree in public health, focusing on health policy. She serves on the Women’s Medical Fund board and during her free time you can find her cozying it up at a local cafe reading with her husband. Jennifer Brank is an information management and data privacy professional who has volunteered and advocated for health-care rights and information literacy programs with organizations such as PhiladelphiaFIGHT, Planned Parenthood, and the Free Library of Philadelphia for over 20 years.