Abortion rights are under attack nationwide. We have to push back on every front | Madeleine Dean

By PBS NewsHour from Arlington, Va., USA - 082812_Planned Parenthood_006, CC BY 2.0, WikiMedia Commons

By Madeleine Dean

Nearly 50 years ago, the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade.

For decades, it has protected a woman’s right to make the most difficult – and intimate – of choices.

U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th District (U.S. House of Representatives photo)

That choice is something no woman wants to face. It is the hardest, most heart-wrenching decision of a woman’s life. And when the right to make that decision is taken away, things can go terribly wrong.

We have seen it in my family. During the 1930’s, my mother-in-law’s mother was living in Scranton. She and her husband had six children, and she was pregnant with another when the family learned that bringing the child to term would likely mean that neither she nor her child would survive.

Maybe the outcome would have been the same – perhaps she would have chosen to go forward with her pregnancy. But that was a choice she never had, and both she and the child died – leaving six children without a mother.

That tragedy has reverberated within our family ever since – and it could have been avoided. And this is just one instance of many – in which women’s choices are not their own but are dictated by the people around them.

The question, then, is whether we are willing to engage with the circumstances that sometimes lead women and their doctors to consider abortion.

So many of the recent abortion laws – in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, and elsewhere – are rooted in a refusal to acknowledge this fundamental point. These laws send a clear message: “We have our beliefs, and that’s that. We are not interested in hearing about the challenges or medical emergencies women face. We would rather cover our ears or look away.”

From defense to offense: The new politics of abortion | E. Fletcher McClellan

I have seen this same attitude here in Pennsylvania. I spent six-and-a-half years in Harrisburg, and too many times heard arguments on the House Floor from legislators – a majority of whom were men, none of them doctors – who were not willing to discuss the facts.

Well, we fought them – and so far, we are winning. I am so thankful to have such great champions for women in Gov. Tom Wolf, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Women’s Health Caucus Chair Rep. Mary Jo Daley D-Montgomery, and former Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards.

In Congress, we are fighting too. I am a co-sponsor of Rep. Judy Chu’s, D-Calif., Women’s Health Protection Act of 2019, which protects a woman’s ability to determine whether and when to bear a child – and defends the rights of healthcare providers to provide reproductive health services.

I am also a co-sponsor Rep. Katherine Clark’s, D-Mass., Reproductive Rights are Human Rights Act of 2019, which directs the State Department to record information on reproductive rights in its human rights report.

Our decades-long argument over abortion, explained | Analysis

We will continue to stand up for women’s reproductive healthcare – but it is essential that we recognize the stakes. The recent state-based restrictions on women’s reproductive healthcare are part of a nationwide strategy to challenge Roe v. Wade – and if Roe falls, we will be looking at a very different landscape.

We cannot let that happen. We have to push back on every front – in the courts, in Congress, in the legislatures, and on the op-ed pages. Our leaders need to know: women’s reproductive health is not optional – it is a basic right.

Above all, we have to insist that this debate is not abstract. It is about real women making incredibly difficult choices in painful circumstances.

Women do not deserve to be judged.

We deserve to be heard; we deserve to be understood; and we will have our rights protected.

U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Democrat, represents the Montgomery County-based 4th Congressional District. She writes from Washington D.C.


  1. So very sad to think a woman is on board with choosing between having a baby or killing a baby. So tragic about your grandmother’s decision and the outcome. But this was the good Lord who called them home. We cannot destroy babies in the womb. I challenge you, Madeline, to stand at 12th and Locust for one hour, pray the rosary and see the amount of young women who enter Planned Parenthood. Last year alone they did 3,769 abortions and within 7 blocks at another facility they did 6,500 last year. So between the two about 10,000 abortions. These were not medical problem pregnancies. These girls chose to destroy a human life because they could not be bothered raising and caring for a life. Is this what you believe to be right? Is this what you promote?
    You were baptized in the Catholic faith, you were confirmed in the Catholic faith and if you remember you promised to defend your faith. You are not defending your faith. Since you have a public platform and a following you are held more accountable to defend your faith. Do the responsible thing and makes amends with Jesus.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.