In 1776, the Declaration of Independence promised all men “certain unalienable rights”, which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This promise was made by men for men and excluded women. For almost a century and a half, women were denied suffrage. In 1920, women finally earned their right to vote; however, decisions for women continue to be made.
Although many areas in the world more harshly suppress and oppress women, the United States (US) has taken steps toward limiting women’s rights. I always believed America was the land of the free that protected rights for all. Apparently, this is only the case for rights specifically outlined in the US Constitution.
In the summer of last year, Roe V Wade was overturned. This landmark Supreme Court case gave women the right to choose what happens to their bodies and offered the choice of an abortion. Due to the fact that the Constitution does not explicitly state this right, the Supreme Court decided they had no choice but to leave it up to each state to determine whether or not abortion is legal. Almost fifty years of freedom to choose was stripped away the minute that decision was made. Twelve states have already completely banned abortions and others have heavy restrictions that limit this right.
The only way to return basic body autonomy to women in America is for the US Congress to pass legislation and implement these rights for women. Women–who understand how taking away the basic right to choose impacts real people–need to be placed in government. Women–who are willing to fight for other women’s rights–need to be placed in government. Until that can happen, organizations like Zonta must continue to help empower and educate the next generation of young women.
I urge you to try to do whatever you can to advocate for women from attending women’s rights marches to helping struggling women at shelters. If you currently do so, continue to advocate for women, and hope the next generation will make positive changes.