January 22nd marked the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that established legal abortion across the United States.
RHAP and RHEDI started as one organization based in New York City called the Access Project. For over twenty years, we have been honoring the Roe v. Wade court decision by gathering with our local New York City colleagues – the clinicians, nurses, medical assistants, social workers, administrators, advocates, everyone we worked alongside every day. We relished being together and having the opportunity to thank each other for doing this important work. In 2005 when the Access Project split into two organizations, we kept up the tradition of co-hosting an annual Roe v Wade celebration.
We know that by the end of this year, the protections guaranteed under Roe may no longer exist. While Roe has been the law of the land for nearly half a century, we acknowledge that it never fully ensured that abortion care is accessible to all, particularly communities that already experience disproportionate barriers to accessing health care. Barriers like the Hyde Amendment, parental consent laws, bans on medication abortion, gestational limits, regulations targeted at abortion clinics and providers and much more, combined with racial, economic, and immigration injustices, have meant that abortion has always been out of reach for far too many communities.
This year’s Roe celebration, held via zoom, brought together nearly 170 colleagues and supporters of both organizations from around the country. The event focused on the need to expand the fight for abortion access beyond Roe v. Wade. We hosted a panel discussion that highlighted five primary care abortion providers, Maya Bass, Mallory Klocke, Bhavik Kumar, April Lockley, and Jamie Phifer, each offering their take on the current challenges, highlighting opportunities for expansion, and sharing important considerations to ensure that this work is sustainable and equitable.
As we await the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health in June, the 15-week ban out of Mississippi that will likely decide the fate of legal abortion access in our country, the work of our organizations is more important than ever.
Everyone – especially people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, young people, immigrants, and those working to make ends meet – should be able to access comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion care, in their own communities, free from barriers, stigma, and shame. This is why, as we head into an uncertain time, our organizations are committed to meeting the needs of clinicians on the ground, so that they can provide the best care possible to their patients regardless of what state and community they practice in. Supporters donated $3,178.45 which is being split between RHAP and RHEDI and will go to furthering both organizations’ work to expand access to abortion care.