I would like to take this occasion to recognize ”International Women’s Day.”   

On this day, we celebrate the political, social and economic achievements of women all over the world.  There is no doubt that great strides have been made over the years, but while we recognize the tremendous progress in certain countries, we must remember that there is much more work to be done.    .

When I think of the barriers that women have endured over the centuries, I think of the fight to maintain power over their own bodies, especially as it relates to reproductive issues.  

In most countries, abortion remains illegal and tens of thousands of women die annually from self-induced or illegal abortions.  Indeed, we must not forget that that is how it was for women in this country before 1973, when the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the Roe v Wade decision.   Before that landmark case, women in this country resorted to illegal, “back-alley” abortions, often with fatal results.  The hospital emergency rooms were filled with women who tried using a coat-hanger or a chemical to terminate their pregnancy.  Unfortunately, this is still the case in much of the Third World because abortion remains illegal in many of those countries.    

Although we have lived with legal abortion in this country for decades, we cannot take this right for granted.  Abortion rights are still under attack. Those who oppose legalized abortion are only two votes away on the Supreme Court from making it illegal once again.   While President Obama is clearly pro-choice and, if he could, would nominate a pro-choice justice, his political position in the U.S. Senate is tenuous and it could be difficult to confirm a justice who is clearly pro-choice.  Even if the Supreme Court continues to keep abortion legal, the anti-abortion movement continues to make access to the abortion procedure more difficult.   And without access to abortion, the right to abortion means nothing.

So, I would like to use this occasion to thank the doctors, the staff and the pro-choice movement for holding firm, for making abortion accessible to over one million women each year.  I would like to congratulate the women of this country who have exercised their constitutional right to have an abortion.   At the same time, while we fight to protect that right here in the United States, we should take a moment to think of our sisters in other countries who are struggling to gain the control over their bodies that they so richly deserve.