Crow After Roe: How Women’s Health is the New “Separate But Equal” & How to Change That

The Broad Side contributors Robin Marty and Jessica Pieklo have been working long and hard on their book about what has happened to women’s reproductive rights since the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973 through today.  On the 40th anniversary of the historic ruling that guaranteed a woman’s right to decide her own reproductive destiny, their book Crow After Row: How Women’s Health is the New “Separate But Equal” and How Change That, that examines how those rights have been whittled away in the last four decades, will be released soon.


Robin and Jessica have provided this exclusive excerpt to The Broad Side as part of our commemoration of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling:

Wendy Long, the 2012 Republican challenger to New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, notoriously told local news outlet Capital New York that if Roe was overturned, it was highly unlikely anyone would even notice at this point. “[I]f Roe v. Wade were overturned tomorrow, nobody would even notice, because the states are legislating their own laws about abortion, completely independent.”

Would anyone notice? Yes, of course they would, depending on the state that they lived in and their economic means. Access to abortion will always be a reality for women in certain states like California, New York, Washington and other places that value a woman’s right to control her body. But in states like Texas, Arizona and Kansas, it’s a different story. As The Center for Reproductive Rights reported in a 2004 study “If Roe Fell,” only twenty states (at the time) would have safe, legal abortion if Roe were overturned. The other thirty states would have limited access, and twenty-one of those would likely have no access at all based on their own trigger laws or previous state court verdicts.

If  “nobody would even notice,” it would only be because in many states, restrictions prior to having an abortion have become so onerous that access has become a matter of where a woman lives or how much money she has. From laws that ban abortion at different points prior to viability such as in Nebraska and Ohio, to laws that ban certain types of abortions such in Wisconsin, legislators are inserting themselves as authorities on medical best practices and turning providers into criminals. In Indiana, they are seeking ways of criminalizing women for “endangering” their pregnancies, while in Idaho, prosecutors have taken steps towards jailing women for procuring their own abortions. Washington D.C., Texas and Kansas have all found different means to use funding as a way to cut off women’s access to reproductive health services, while South Dakota, Oklahoma and Mississippi use “informed consent” and “women’s safety” as a means to deny the right to choose. Arizona simply bans everything and hopes one of the laws will eventually make it to the Supreme Court.

With 40 years of judicial precedent that has incrementally rolled back abortion access to work with and a panel of Supreme Court justices who appear more willing than ever to re-open an issue that is considered settled law, women’s reproductive rights have never been more vulnerable. And thanks to a handful of state legislators determined to make their political names and reputations by advancing legislation meant to crumble those protections offered by Roe, we may fragment into a new Confederacy of pro- and anti-women’s health states sooner than anyone could have imagined. To prevent that from happening, we need to move away from just defending a woman’s right to choose and back to an aggressive stance where we once more demand that bodily autonomy belong to all woman, regardless of their race or class.

Anti-choice activists have set the battleground in states like Nebraska, Wisconsin, Idaho, Indiana, Ohio, Texas, Kansas, D.C., Arizona, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Mississippi. They have used the legislatures to create the laws that regulate abortion practically out of existence and padded the judiciary with abortion-hostile justices to control legal challenges. But by examining each individual prong in the attack on Roe it is clear that the assault is not simply on women, but on women who have the least means to fight back by themselves and for themselves. Together we can create a game plan to bring the fight back to these states and across the country as a whole in order to create an equitable health care system that offers reproductive justice for all.

Joanne Bamberger is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Broad Side. She is the author of Mothers of Intention: How Women & Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America (an best-seller).

Image via iStockphoto/Gary Blakeley

  • Amy McVay Abbott

    I live in Indiana. Yesterday I heard on NPR that PP of Indiana has merged with PP of Kentucky (the details may be slightly different, it maybe a PP of southern Indiana and northern Kentucky, but I’m using the anecdote to illustrate my point.) PP provides abortions and while that is a very small part of their services (especially here in the Midwest where only a few of their clinics have that service), the story focused on the fact that a clinic in Kentucky might provide abortions, rather than on the fact that now low-income women of Kentucky would have another option for OTHER health services, such as Pap smears and mammograms and birth control.

    I understand that the abortion issue is contentious, but I don’t understand why many people are against PP when the breadth of their services is about preventive care for women.

Caitlyn Jenner sas hardest thing about being a woman is what to wear
What Not To Wear, Caitlyn Jenner Edition: Banality
Dirty Little Secret
Girl gamers, Latoya Peterson, gender and gaming
Exploring the World of Girl Gamers
Viola Davis, women and beauty, beauty myths, self-esteem
How To Get Away With No Makeup and Hair
Black Friday Christmas Consumerism
What if We Just Don’t?
Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox, #hillaryparadoxbook, Hillary Clinton president
My Profound Political Change
paris attacks, paris terrorism, terrorism, no safe place
There Is No Safe Space
Hillary Clinton paradox, Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox, books
I Don’t Need Hillary Clinton to Be Perfect
Suffragette: Why All Girls Should See This Film
Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox, #hillaryparadoxbook, Hillary Clinton president
My Profound Political Change
paris attacks, paris terrorism, terrorism, no safe place
There Is No Safe Space
Hillary Clinton paradox, Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox, books
I Don’t Need Hillary Clinton to Be Perfect
paris attacks, paris terrorism, terrorism, no safe place
There Is No Safe Space
Paris attacks, Paris terrorism
Is Paris Burning?
Love Her Love Her Not The Hillary Paradox, hillary clinton paradox, Hillary Clinton campaign
Can a Woman Be Elected President Without Playing the Gender Card?
Ben Carson temper
Ben Carson’s Temper Surgically Removed?
Paris attacks, Paris terrorism
Is Paris Burning?
Chinese government and women's reproductive rights, adopting Chinese girls, international adoption
Dear Xi Jinping, I Am Writing to You as an American Mom of a 19-Year-Old Chinese Daughter
First Lady Hillary Clinton in Inda in 1995
The Vital Voice of Hillary Clinton: Part 1
American tourists help Syrian refugees in Hungary
One Woman Making a Difference to Syrian Refugees
The Eyes Have It!
Ashley Madison, Jared Fogle, sex, rape, sexual affairs
Ashley Madison vs. Jared Fogle: Rape, Sex and Hacking in America
women's viagra, Viagra, Flibanserin, sexual arousal, women's desire, sex after menopause
That “Little Pink Pill” Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be
breast cancer, save the boobies, save second base, why is breast cancer awareness about sex
Campaigns to Save the “Boobies” and “Tatas” Do Women No Favors

Get our new weekly email
Broadly Speaking

featuring our best words for the week + an exclusive longread