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Reflecting on last year’s Women’s March that took place in D.C. and around the country, this one sign really stood out for me. It was a reminder that fighting for rights isn’t once-and-done — women who were marching in the ‘60s joined their daughters and granddaughters at last year’s Women’s March and many have taken to the streets once again this year.

In 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Connecticut law that actually prohibited married couples from using birth control. Subsequently, with the Jan. 22, 1973, landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court again affirmed that the Constitution protects every person’s right to privacy in their health care decision-making, in this case, whether to have an abortion.

We have made great progress in this country in reducing unintended pregnancies, due largely to expanded access to birth control, including a historic low of pregnancy among teens. Even with this progress, I believe, as do a majority of Americans, that people have a right to make their own decisions about their bodies, their families, and their life’s path, without political interference.

Yet, here we are in 2018 facing some of the biggest threats to women’s health and rights since birth control became legal more than 50 years ago. Undermining access to contraception is just one aspect of this administration’s broader attack against equal rights and women’s ability to fully participate in the workforce and pursue their life goals. Access to birth control is more than just a health issue. It’s about health, rights and economic equality.

Across the nation, over the past year, we have seen legislators and regulators try to undo provisions that enhance access to birth control by getting rid of programs that help low-income women access birth control, eliminating no-copay insurance coverage for birth control, and even prohibiting health care providers from giving women information about birth control and abortion. And since 2010, states have adopted more than 300 abortion restrictions — 30 percent of all abortion restrictions enacted since Roe v. Wade.

Birth control and abortion are personal medical choices that should be decided among patients and doctors, not politicians. It’s time to stop criminalizing women’s health care, interfering with the personal decisions of women, and substituting political agendas for the expertise of health care professionals.

But despite these attacks on health care, I feel encouraged. More women will take to the streets to hold protest signs and head to the voting booths to support choice and run for office to advocate for women’s health. We are sending a message that we will not tire from holding up our signs — we will not give up.

In the words of Golden Globe award winner Bruce Miller for “The Handmaid’s Tale” (a terrifying cautionary tale about a future without reproductive rights, including contraception and abortion): “To all the people in the world who stopped The Handmaid’s Tale from becoming real: keep doing that.”

Jan Hodges of Carlisle is the vice chair for Planned Parenthood Keystone Board of Directors.


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