January 22, 2003, will mark the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, the landmark privacy ruling that gives women the constitutional right to choose abortion. With the Nov. 5 elections giving Republicans the majority of the House and Senate, and with staunchly anti-abortion George W. Bush in the White House, this triumvirate of power makes the struggle to maintain abortion and reproductive rights so much more difficult and imperative.

It is estimated that prior to the passage of Roe v. Wade, tens of thousands of women died as a result of illegal abortions. Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, women have lost ground to an anti-choice movement whose aggressive behavior has passed many onerous restrictions to abortion rights and threatened to crush the very rights it took generations to win — both through legislation and through Supreme Court decisions.

Most political scholars agree that George W. Bush could make two or three appointments to the Supreme Court, given the age of many of the Justices. Currently, the Court is divided 3-3-3 on choice, with 3 anti-choice Justices, 3 pro-choice Justices (two likely to retire), and 3 Justices with a mixed voting record on choice (with Sandra Day O’Connor, often called the “swing voter,” likely to retire). Most recently abortion rights have been upheld by a razor-thin margin of 5-4. Just one more staunchly anti-choice Justice could shift the balance in the Supreme Court and overturn Roe.

If Roe is reversed, other fundamental right to privacy cases would be in jeopardy as well. The two predecessor Supreme Court cases to Roe, Griswold v. Connecticut and Eisenstadt v. Baird, which established “zones of privacy” in the area of birth control for married and unmarried women are also in jeopardy. Prior to the 1966 Griswold decision, it was illegal for married women to buy birth control in Connecticut under the “every sperm is sacred” statute.

At press time, unconfirmed reports claim that Right to Life forces will demonstrate at the Ohio Statehouse on January 22. Several organizations have contacted the Free Press urging that pro-choice advocates counter-demonstrate. Call 253-2571 for more information. See the Calendar (pages 30-31) for more Roe v Wade events.