By: Shari Inniss-Grant, FellowPosted on January 22, 2013

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.

Because women deserve itWhen my coworker posed the question, why are you celebrating women being able to access preventative services without a copay, my answer was sure and simple, “Because women deserve it.”

Not everyone agrees with that statement. If the last months of public debate have shown anything, it’s that there are a wide variety of views on the women’s right to access reproductive healthcare. Some people think it is good public policy and long overdue; others think that it’s a gift or worse, immoral.

I’m personally inclined to side with Justice Ginsberg. In reflecting on Roe she said, “[In] the balance is a woman’s autonomous charge of her full life’s course, her ability to stand in relation to men, society and to stay as an independent, self-sustaining equal citizen.” As I celebrate the ACA and Roe, I celebrate women’s ability to build lives they lives they desire. I’m grateful that reproductive healthcare is one of the tools that expands rather than constrains women’s decisions.

born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?

Women of all races and socio-economic backgrounds seek abortions. In the United States 1 in 2 pregnancies is unintended and 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by the age of 45. Most of these women will do so to end an unintended pregnancy, while others will face medical or life complications. Yet abortion, like other forms of healthcare and basic services needed to build a worthwhile life, reflects the deep racial and economic chasms of American society. 55% of the women who seek abortions are women of color. 69% of the women are economically disadvantaged. 60% are mothers making a decision that allows them to best take care of their families. The portrait of who seeks abortions is complicated and intricate. These women’s stories are complex and their decisions are best made by the person who understands their needs, goals, and capacity—themselves.

i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,

Control over our reproductive decisions is part of a long walk to full autonomy that women started over two centuries ago. If girls are to take ownership of their lives as they become women, they must have control over all aspects of their lives—their reproductive health, their academic opportunities, and their professional potential. Roe is one point along that journey—a bright point—but it is by no means the beginning or the end. Women and other groups who have been disadvantaged will continue to advocate for the right to participate in society as full equals. Despite the obstacles and many roadblocks we will continue to make our own path up as we go along.

my one hand holding tight
my one hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

Lucille Clifton