A Post-Roe Perspective Based on a Thirty Years' Look Back
By Betsy D

     I’m not sure I can do a “brief” article summing up this subject – I think the archival photos I’ve submitted to accompany this story do it more justice without the verbosity. This is more a Post-Roe perspective based on some of these archived photos and letters to the editor– a thirty years’ look back at what has been, and what will come en masse unless Roe vs. Wade is restored and a woman’s right to choose is once and for all protected, for all time, across every state in our nation.

     I’d relocated from Philly to Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 1990 (talk about a rude awakening – my mom was horrified), and from 1993 to 1996 I served as president of Southwest Louisiana Right to Choose. We held our meetings at the local synagogue, where I was a member of the sisterhood (a lovely 100+ year old temple, Reformed, and so welcoming). In addition to keeping the editor of the American Press busy with our responses to editorial pieces and letters (“Here come ‘the LADIES’,” he’d say), we held rallies every January 22nd on the Lake Charles Courthouse steps. When we traveled to defend clinics in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas at a time when groups like Operation Rescue and Rescue America were in their obnoxious heyday, we met David Gunn, Jr., whose father was one of the first doctors murdered by an anti-choice fanatic, and experienced the whole US Marshals/SWAT Team drive-the-doctor-in in a protective helmet thing. We met some amazing people in other defenders and in local supporters who opened their homes to us, fed us, and tried to keep us cool in the hot summer sun.

Clinic Defenders - Jackson MS

Pro Life protesters drug their children to sit hours in the oppressive heat in Baton Rouge


     We held a voter registration drive and historical reading at the local mall to celebrate the 75th anniversary of women’s voting rights, during which we registered more than 100 voters. Members of RTC and volunteers, with costumes from the local Little Theater, performed a short reenactment of Susan B. Anthony’s trial, and regional storyteller Lynette Braxton, as Sojourner Truth, delivered an incredible speech ending in song that left us with goosebumps and a few tears. Following that event we took the lesson to a local classroom, to teach them about the right to vote and the importance of voting. That was a most gratifying experience.


     What was true then is what is true now: that reproductive freedom and women’s health care issues affect every single American – everyone who has a friend, family member, spouse or child. Simply said “Someone you know may need a choice.”  Never mind the crux of the matter in the first place, that a woman’s body is her own, and the fact of her pregnancy is no one’s business but hers and her doctor’s (to a point), and her choice is between her and her god. (And don’t even start me on religion or anti-choice men, who have no lady parts to begin with and are encouraged and enabled to use their man parts with no accountability whatsoever. After thirty years of this conversation, I’ve got little tolerance, still less patience and a whole lot less filter.)     

What I think we need to reinforce now:

     First – correct our terminology/verbiage: Stop referring to those who support anti-woman, anti-choice legislators as “pro-life” – they are not pro-life; they are pro-fetus (human, anyway – and that, dependent on race and location). They are pro-forced birth with either their votes or their silence, so they are more appropriately referred to as ANTI-CHOICE. Similarly, stop referring to women’s medical/reproductive facilities as “abortion clinics. ”We don’t call the dentist’s office the “root canal clinic;” same thing. One is a procedure, one is a medical office.

     Education, Education, Education – Educate our kids to understand the consequences of their choices. Teach them the meaning of the word “hypocrisy” for it is all around them all their lives. They should understand how to recognize it. Teach TOLERANCE. Teach compassion. Teach them that it is okay to be their genuine selves without fear of judgment. All that stuff we’ve been proponents of for years. All the stuff that people who say they are “pro-life” vote against.


     Have The Conversations wherever they need to be had, as often as necessary. Talk about self-respect and anything that empowers girls and women to have faith in themselves, their gut instincts and their ability to make good choices. Seriously – the things the women of my generation could have been spared, but for lack of appropriate conversations between parents/mentors and children.

     With all this experience behind us, so many battles fought on so many fronts, and positive gains made, when Roe was overturned it was gut-wrenching. We veteran activists are tired, but our passion and our outrage remain strong. The torch is for the younger generations to carry, and they must win this battle because it is their lives that are at stake. But they can count on our support and we will lend our voices and our votes. As long as we share our stories, and keep sharing them, we can win this and other battles in the proverbial “good fight.” 

Anti choicers gonna pray for the Marshal and the guards - better if they would just go away 

Parents screaming they kill babies here, while holding their confused children 

Men's prayer group - Baton Rouge