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Abortion Rights Fund celebrates 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade

  • Liza Fuentes, a senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, addresses about 100 people gathered in the Red Barn at Hampshire College in Amherst on Feb. 10 for an Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts program marking the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts board member Marlene Fried talks with the Gazette prior to a program at Hampshire College in Amherst on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, marking the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Liza Fuentes, a senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, speaks with the Gazette before her keynote speech to an Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts program at Hampshire College in Amherst on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, marking the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Liza Fuentes, a senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, speaks with the Gazette before her keynote speech to an Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts program at Hampshire College in Amherst on Saturday. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Boston area pediatrician Lisbeth Howe, left, and former Massachusetts representative Ellen Story of Amherst chat prior to the start of an Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts program at Hampshire College in Amherst on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, marking the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Former 3rd Hampshire District Representative Ellen Story of Amherst welcomes about 100 people to an Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts program at Hampshire College in Amherst on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, marking the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts President Mary Russo thanks many in the volunteer-run organization before introducing keynote speaker Liza Fuentes, a senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, at an ARFWM program at Hampshire College in Amherst on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, marking the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts President Mary Russo thanks many in the volunteer-run organization before introducing keynote speaker Liza Fuentes, a senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, at an ARFWM program at Hampshire College in Amherst on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, marking the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Liza Fuentes, a senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, was the keynote speaker at an Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts program at Hampshire College in Amherst on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, marking the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Liza Fuentes, a senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, speaks with the Gazette before her keynote speech to an Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts program at Hampshire College in Amherst on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, marking the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Liza Fuentes, a senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, speaks with the Gazette before her keynote speech to an Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts program at Hampshire College in Amherst on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, marking the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Former 3rd Hampshire District Representative Ellen Story of Amherst welcomes about 100 people to an Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts program at Hampshire College in Amherst on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, marking the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts President Mary Russo thanks many in the volunteer-run organization before introducing keynote speaker Liza Fuentes, a senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, at an ARFWM program at Hampshire College in Amherst on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, marking the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Liza Fuentes, a senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, addresses about 100 people gathered in the Red Barn at Hampshire College in Amherst on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, for an Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts program marking the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Liza Fuentes, a senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, addresses about 100 people gathered in the Red Barn at Hampshire College in Amherst on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, for an Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts program marking the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING



For the Bulletin
Saturday, February 17, 2018

AMHERST — Activists, political leaders, students and medical professionals were among those that gathered at the Red Barn at Hampshire College on Saturday to celebrate the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on January 22, 1973.

“This is our main event of the year,” said Elliot Levine, a member of the board of directors for the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts. “I think that it is really wonderful to see all these people here including so many local political folks.”

Several longtime supporters of the event and of reproductive rights, state Sen. Stan Rosenberg, former state Rep. Ellen Story and former U.S. Rep. John Olver, were in attendance.

“This has been a major event for many years, bringing people together throughout the region to work with each other and remind each other about the importance of reproductive health,” Rosenberg said. “That is needed more now, than it has been needed in a long time.”

That sentiment was reiterated by the event’s invited speaker, Liza Fuentes, a senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, a leading research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights, both in the U.S. and globally.

“Obviously there are a lot of things to be concerned about regarding reproductive health,” Fuentes said. “At the federal level, there is currently a tremendous effort and commitment to curtail abortion rights.”

Much of Fuentes’ research focuses on abortion restriction legislation known as “Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers,” or TRAP laws.

These laws single out medical practices that provide abortions, imposing restrictive requirements on them that are more burdensome than those imposed on other medical practices, she said.

Fuentes said that TRAP laws are typically passed under the guise of making abortion safer for women, but that evidence-based research proves quite the opposite, confirming that the restrictions are medically unjustified and actually harm women’s health and inhibit their right to safe and legal reproductive health care.

She noted the example of a Texas law known as HB2 that passed in 2013 requiring all facilities performing abortions to meet hospital standards, including the minimum sizes for rooms and doorways, and pipelines for anesthesia.

The law was eventually repealed in 2016, thanks to research that proved it had no health benefits for women, Fuentes said.

However, Fuentes said that in the three years the law was in place, the number of abortion clinics dropped from more than 40 in 2012 to just 17.

The reduction has forced women to travel substantial distances for abortion services, increasing expense and medical risk, because abortions that occur later in a pregnancy carry higher risk of complications and imposes greater costs, she said.

Fuentes used the example to stress the importance of public policy being evidence based rather than politically motivated.

“Good public health relies on credible science,” she said. “Sound evidence shows that clinical-based care is exceedingly safe.”

She also noted the positive effect Roe v. Wade has had on women’s health.

“The impact of Roe v. Wade has been immeasurable,” Fuentes said. “Though I can actually measure it, because that is what I do.”

Fuentes said that in 1930, abortion was listed as the official cause of death for 3,000 women, and thousands of women developed infections after obtaining an abortion.

“Three years after Roe v. Wade, only two abortions resulted the death of the woman,” Fuentes said. “We know legalized abortion saves lives.”

Lisbeth Howe, a Smith College graduate and pediatrician in Newton, said she has made it a point to return to western Massachusetts to attend the Abortion Rights Fund annual event.

“I had a roommate in college who became septic after having an illegal abortion, but luckily she didn’t die,” Howe said. “I am so pleased to celebrate this occasion here, especially in these difficult times.”

Story said she remembered when the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade.

“We all thought, ‘Phew, that’s done; now we can move on to other things.’ We were naive and we were wrong,” she said, emphasizing that abortion rights cannot be taken for granted.

“We have to stick together, organize and be successful,” Story said, adding that she was pleased to see so many younger women at the event to carry on the work.

Smith College students Bridget MacNeil, 18, Hallie Brown, 19, Marleen Wrage, 24, and Megan Cook, 23, all attended the event together.

“This is an in interesting opportunity to connect with the community and to understand what is going on with reproductive rights and reproductive justice,” MacNeil said. “It is important to know how to fight to maintain those rights.”

Brown noted that in the current political climate women are becoming more energized and involved.

“There is a big push now to go out and to do good work and in order to do that you have to understand the issues,” Brown said. “That is why we are here.”

“At a time where blatant falsehoods are served up as our daily bread, evidence-based research on public health is a powerful foil to junk science meant to shame and bully people,” fund board member Mary Russo said.

According to Russo, the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts gives 86 percent of its donations to help fund abortions services for individual women.

Marlene Fried is a professor of philosophy and faculty director of the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program at Hampshire College. She has served on the National Network of Abortion Funds and is the founder of the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts.

“We created this fund as a very kitchen-table, grassroots organization in 1986,” Fried said. “We still have no office and no staff, and I joke that if someone gave us a million dollars we still wouldn’t get that stuff. We would just continue to use the money to help women get abortions.”