Is an anniversary of a landmark ruling really an anniversary if that ruling was overturned? Progressive forces say yes, and plan to use the day to fight for reproductive rights.
For the first time in U.S. history, the anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision is being observed in a post-Roe world. The precedent, which granted women the right to an abortion at a federal level, was overturned by the Supreme Court in June. Still, ahead of its 50th anniversary, Americans across the country plan to commemorate the milestone in their own ways.
In Florida, Vice President Kamala Harris will signal the White House’s continued commitment to fighting back against increasing attacks on abortion with a “major address” on Sunday, the official anniversary date. In the months following the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, Harris has become one of the most recognized voices in America on the issue of abortion and over the past several months has been traveling the country holding meetings with health officials, lawmakers, advocates, and private sector leaders pushing for abortion access.
While the specific location for the Sunday speech has yet to be confirmed, senior administration officials have said that the decision for Harris to go to Florida, a place that is “at the forefront of the fight” and exists as the third-most-populous state, is a strategic one.
“The Vice President will make very clear: The fight to secure women’s fundamental right to reproductive health care is far from over,” press secretary Kirsten Allen said in a statement Wednesday. “She will lay out the consequences of extremist attacks on reproductive freedom in states across our country and underscore the need for Congress to codify Roe. The President and the Vice President are clear that a women’s right to choose is non-negotiable.”
Madison, Wisconsin is also moving into the national spotlight on Sunday as the National Women’s March, which rose to prominence following Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017, is shifting its focus from Washington to the Wisconsin State Capitol. This year, the group has teamed up with the Madison Abortion and Reproductive Rights Coalition for Healthcare for a “Bigger than Roe” march.
According to Women’s March Executive Director Rachel Carmona, the decision to hold the flagship march in Madison is meant to signal that the organization is going to where the fight is. With states now deciding on abortion, that means going to the states.
In Wisconsin, an 1849 ban on abortion, the oldest trigger law in the nation, went into effect when Roe was overturned, making abortion a felony. The law is currently being challenged, putting an unusual focus on the 2023 Spring election that will decide the balance of the state Supreme Court—and, ultimately, the right to abortion in Wisconsin.
“Despite the events of the past year, Roe v. Wade remains an important and historic landmark decision that was the culmination of years of righteous struggle by women across the country. We will continue to honor their fight, their sacrifice, and their contributions by commemorating this date,” said Carmona.
This year’s march will come with mixed feelings for Carmona who will be marking January 22nd as both “the beginning of the first full year where settled law was overturned to strip women of reproductive freedom” and “the first day of 2023 where the country will come together in mobilizations across the country to fight back.”
Wisconsin, along with its neighbor, Minnesota, will also receive a visit from Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra this week. The states, which share a border, have gone in different legal directions since the fall of Roe, and, as a result, Minnesota has seen an influx of patients from Wisconsin seeking abortion access. Becerra’s trip is intended to “highlight that here in the United States, you can drive just a few miles across state lines and lose your right to receive healthcare, abortion,” according to senior administration officials.
Meanwhile, in the nation’s capital, the organizers of March For Life, the largest anti-abortion demonstration group in the country, are still planning to march—this time in a post-Roe world. “The goal of the national March for Life is to not only change laws at the state and federal level, but to change the culture,” according to the event website, which says the group will “continue to march every January at the national level.”