A Progressive Agenda for Women's Reproductive Health and Liberty on Roe v. Wade's Thirty-Fifth Anniversary

Author(s): 
Dawn E. Johnsen
Publication Date: 
January 22, 2008

In A Progressive Agenda for Women's Reproductive Health and Liberty on Roe v. Wade's Thirty-Fifth Anniversary, Professor Dawn Johnsen, Professor of Law at the Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington, offers her analysis of the state of reproductive liberty in the United States and offers an agenda for the future. She concludes that, although there is some reason for hope, those who seek to overturn Roe and criminalize abortion have much to celebrate: they have succeeded in making abortion services less available to growing numbers of women and they have changed the public discourse. Professor Johnsen notes in particular that in last year's decision in Gonzales v. Carhart, the Supreme Court upheld a federal abortion ban, notwithstanding the absence of an exception to protect women's health, based in part on unsubstantiated and entirely false assertions that abortion is bad for women and that women need to be protected from their own reproductive decisions. Professor Johnsen argues that pro-choice progressives need a vision and long-term strategic plan, and she offers a series of recommendations toward that end, including public education and political efforts, opposition to incremental obstacles to abortion services, and the furthering of a comprehensive agenda that goes beyond abortion and encompasses the full range of policies essential to reproductive liberty and health.