Roe v. Wade at 40: Lost Ground and the Moment to Reclaim It

As 2012 came to a close, one of the last attacks on reproductive freedom in Arizona was in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where the state of Arizona fought to defund Planned Parenthood. The state was appealing an injunction against HB2800, a new measure that would strip funding for family planning services from any health care facility that provides abortions.

The 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade should serve as a call to action to defend reproductive freedom.

Following a year that saw more state-level legislation to restrict abortion access than any year in the last three decades, 2012 saw no reprieve. Besides HB2800, Arizona lawmakers voted on bills that barred employer coverage for birth control and access to medically necessary abortions. In response to part of the latter bill, the Arizona Department of Health Service’s website added a new section on abortion, which made its debut late last year, called “A Woman’s Right to Know” — a guide that employed scare tactics and other manipulation to deter women from seeking abortions.

Arizona reflected what was happening nationally. According to a recent study by the Guttmacher Institute, Arizona has joined a new majority of states that are “solidly hostile to abortion rights.” In 2000, a third of women of reproductive age lived in such states. Today, more than half do. Since 2000, the number of states considered hostile to abortion doubled from 13 to 26. Continue reading

Book Club: Outlaw Marriages

Sally Ride, the famous astronaut who passed away in July from pancreatic cancer, left an unexpected gift to America’s youth. In her obituary, it was revealed that Ride, the first American woman to travel into outer space, had been in a committed, same-sex relationship for 27 years with her partner Tam O’Shaughnessy. Having quietly come out, she now serves as an important, high-profile role model for LGBTQ youth.

Although it became public knowledge too recently to be included, Ride’s story mirrors those found in a recently published collective biography by Rodger StreitmatterOutlaw Marriages: The Hidden Histories of Fifteen Extraordinary Same-Sex Couples (Beacon Press, 2012) visits the topic of same-sex marriage in the United States, covering 140 years of history in 15 marriages, from 1865 to 2005.

Marriage practices have taken many forms across time and across cultures.

Streitmatter, a professor of journalism at American University in Washington, D.C., profiles the marriages of luminaries ranging from poet Walt Whitman to screen star Greta Garbo, bringing his subjects to life in stories that can be fascinating, poignant, and even humorous. The 15 marriages he chronicles were “outlaw marriages,” because “each pair of men and each pair of women defied the social order by creating sub-rosa same-sex marriages long before such relationships were legally sanctioned.” Continue reading