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The fight for reproductive rights

This guest commentary is written by U.S. Senator Tina Smith.

TINASMITH2021.jpg
U.S. Senator Tina Smith
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It’s been nearly one month since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and I’ve had some time to reflect on what this decision means for our country.

When I was just 15 years old, Roe v. Wade established that women have a constitutional right to autonomy over our bodies.

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The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Park Rapids Enterprise by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Park Rapids Enterprise. To submit a letter, email sgeisen@parkrapidsenterprise.com or mail it to Park Rapids Enterprise, 1011 1st. ST. E., Suite 6, Park Rapids, MN 56470.

During my time at Planned Parenthood, I saw firsthand how controlling your own health care allows you to make the best decisions about the course of your life – your education, your work and your family.

Now, I have watched the extremist Supreme Court take away these rights, stripping away 50 years of precedent, freedom and personal choice.

At its core, this decision is about control. Right-wing government officials believe they should decide what women can and cannot do with their bodies – women whose lives and stories they will never know.

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Since Roe was overturned, at least nine states have banned abortion. Republican senators have blocked life-saving legislation that would protect women who travel for abortion, and the Indiana Attorney General wants to criminally charge the doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old victim of sexual assault.

Texas is suing the Biden Administration for requiring that women be provided with life-saving health care, including abortion, in cases of medical emergency. In other words, they are suing for the power to kill women.

The public is overwhelmingly outraged by these actions. Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that abortion should be available to women, and more Americans describe themselves as proponents of abortion rights today than at any other point in the last 25 years.

We have to keep fighting. In an op-ed for The New York Times that I wrote with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), we talk about what elected officials and everyday Americans can do to help others access reproductive care.

In Congress, I support putting the protections of Roe v. Wade into law, upholding the right of women to travel across state lines to receive an abortion and I have introduced legislation to protect access to medication abortion in places where it is still legal.

I’m encouraged by the Biden Administration’s steps to defend abortion access. But let me be clear: the only way to restore reproductive rights across the nation is through Congress.

I will continue to push tirelessly to defend women’s right to make decisions about their own lives and bodies, and I will not stop organizing and fighting until women’s freedoms can be exercised equally in all parts of this country.

Tina Smith is a U.S. Senator representing Minnesota. She previously was lieutenant governor and was the first chairwoman of Rochester's Destination Medical Center Board.

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