On the Right to Choose: What Leading Women’s Health Advocates Say

The words of these women capture the shock, anger, and other sentiments many felt after the Supreme Court’s June decision revoked the constitutional right to abortion.

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Michelle Obama, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Meghan Markle, and other powerful women have spoken eloquently about the importance of reproductive rights.Vincent Thian/AP Photo; Tim Sloan/Getty Images; Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

When the Supreme Court overturned its own nearly 50-year-old ruling in the case of?Roe v. Wade, which had created federal protection for abortion, millions of people spoke out; and many were shocked speechless. Some turned to the words of wise women and shared eloquent comments that captured the emotions stirred by this loss of reproductive freedom.

Here are some of our favorite voices, both from the social media conversation after the June 24, 2022, decision and from previously published statements about birth control and a woman’s right to choose.

“Let me be clear: This won’t put an end to abortions. It will only put an end to safe abortions.”

―?Stacey Abrams, Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia, on Twitter

“Contraceptives unlock one of the most dormant, but potentially powerful assets in development: women as decision-makers.
When women have the power to make choices about their families, they tend to decide precisely what demographers, economists, and development experts recommend. They invest in the long-term human capital of their families.”

― Melinda French Gates, cochair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in Foreign Policy

“This [ruling] is having a very real impact on women’s bodies and lives starting now. Women are already sharing stories of how their physical safety is being put in danger. Women with resources will travel to get an abortion, those without might attempt to give themselves one at tremendous risk. Some will have to source abortion pills from unregulated pharmacies. Others who are pregnant and find themselves in a medical emergency will be at the mercy of doctors and lawyers to determine if a procedure that is needed to save her life can even be done at all. What does this tell women? It tells us that our physical safety doesn’t matter, and as a result that we don’t matter. But we do. Women matter.”

— Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, in Vogue

“If we lived in a culture that valued women’s autonomy and in which men and women?practiced cooperative birth control, the abortion issue would be moot.”

― Christiane Northrup, MD, author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom: Creating Physical Health and Healing

“My body, my work, my voice, my confidence, my power, my determination to demand a life as potent, vibrant, public, and complex as any man’s. My abortion wasn’t intrinsically significant, but it was my first big grown-up decision — the first time I asserted, unequivocally: ‘I KNOW THE LIFE I WANT AND THIS IS NOT IT’; the moment I stopped being a passenger in my own body and grabbed the rudder …
“The truth is I don’t give a damn why anyone has an abortion. I believe unconditionally in the right of people with uteruses to decide what grows inside of their body and feeds on their blood and endangers their life and reroutes their future. There are no ‘good’ abortions and ‘bad’ abortions, there are only pregnant people who want them and pregnant people who don’t, pregnant people who have access and support and pregnant people who face institutional roadblocks and lies.”

― Lindy West, comedian and author of?Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman

RELATED:?Celebrities Share Their Abortion Stories

“Let’s be real: there’s a WHOLE lot of men whose lives, careers, and families have benefited from an abortion (including several ‘pro-life’ GOP congressmen).
Men, we need you right now. You can get through in rooms others can’t. Your power matters. Speak up. This is about us all.”

―?Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, U.S. Representative for New York's 14th Congressional District, on?Twitter

“I am heartbroken — for the teenage girl, full of zest and promise, who won’t be able to finish school or live the life she wants because her state controls her reproductive decisions; for the mother of a nonviable pregnancy who is now forced to bring that pregnancy to term; for the parents watching their child’s future evaporate before their very eyes; for the healthcare workers who can no longer help them without risking jail time.
When we don’t understand our history, we are doomed to repeat its mistakes. In this country, our futures are tied together in a delicate tapestry that we each have a hand in making. Too often, cynicism or indifference makes us feel like we don’t have a say in weaving it, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The more we allow pessimism to push us further into helplessness, the less we will be empowered to help create the kind of country we want to live in.”

―?First Lady Michelle Obama, author of Becoming, on Facebook

“No matter what men think, abortion is a fact of life. Women have always had them; they always have and they always will. Are they going to have good ones or bad ones? Will the good ones be reserved for the rich, while the poor women go to quacks?”

― Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to the United States Congress, in?Unbought and Unbossed

RELATED: Will the Loss of Abortion Rights Impact Access to Birth Control?

“Many of us were the unplanned children of talented, creative women whose lives had been changed by unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. We witnessed their bitterness, their rage, their disappointment with their lot in life and we were clear that there could be no genuine sexual liberation for women and men without better, safer contraceptives, without the right to a safe, legal abortion.”

― bell hooks, social activist and author of?Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics

“If you impose restraints that impede her choice, you are disadvantaging her because of her sex.”

―?Ruth Bader Ginsburg, former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, during confirmation hearings

“My mother had an abortion here in New York state before it was legal. And when I was old enough, she made sure to tell me about it. It was very hard for her to speak about ... She didn’t give a lot of details, but it was very important for her to tell me that she had had an abortion, that it had been illegal, and that it had been a tremendously awful experience. She had wanted me to make sure that I knew her history so I can fully value how crucial reproductive freedom is.”

— Cynthia Nixon, actor, director, and activist, at a pro-choice rally in 2018

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