PORTLAND – Today is the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that ruled that the right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution protects the right of a woman to choose whether to continue a pregnancy to term or to have an abortion.

Two generations of Americans have grown up with Roe v. Wade. Mainers and other Americans still strongly support this decision. In fact, according to a recent Hart Research poll, 62 percent of voters oppose overturning the landmark decision.

Despite this strong support for a woman’s right to choose, on the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, women’s health and rights are being threatened at every level.

In the 2010 election, a significant number of opponents of women’s rights and health were swept into office by a wave of economic discontent.

They are pulling a bait-and-switch maneuver by introducing bills in Maine, other states and at the federal level that will take away health care benefits and rights from American women.

Just Friday, a column in this paper perpetuated myths and outright lies about the reality of Planned Parenthood and our business.

While it is true that we provide abortion services, 90 percent of our services focus on reproductive care, education and provision of contraception, and sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment.

We do this to avoid abortion — hardly a “way to make a good living,” as that column asserted.

Planned Parenthood does receive some state and federal funds for our “services.” Stringent parameters define the use of the funds for the sole purpose of providing low- and no-cost contraception to those living at or below poverty level. Contrary to the implication in that editorial, there are no state or federal dollars funding abortion.

Nonetheless, some women are in a position where they need to consider terminating a pregnancy. They do not make this decision lightly. They are counseled on their options.

If they decide to abort, they do so in a safe, clean, professional environment. Today that choice is constitutionally protected; If Roe v Wade is overturned, it will not change the reality that some women will seek abortion services. 

In the 125th Maine Legislature at least four bills have already been introduced to restrict access to abortion.

They address mandating a 24-hour waiting period; biased and religious-based counseling; minors obtaining parental consent; and a bill about offenses committed against an unborn child, which we can only infer will classify an abortion as murder.

The legislators who have introduced these bills no doubt believe they are doing something good for our community.

The reality, however, is that Maine enjoys the lowest rate of unintended and teen pregnancies in the country.

We have sensible, thoughtful laws which protect women who have to make a very difficult decision. That decision must continue to rest with the woman, her doctor, her family, and the higher power of her choice.

Planned Parenthood is committed to maintaining access to women’s health care in Maine and at a national level.

We are partnering with over 14,000 patients, grassroots supporters and the majority of voters to educate the public about this threat and work aggressively to defeat legislation that threatens to take away women’s constitutional rights, health coverage and care.

While the anniversary of Roe v. Wade provides an opportunity for others to reflect upon this landmark decision, we dedicate our work to it each and every day.

– Special to the Press Herald