40 Years Later: Abortion Rights Still Matter

Even decades after Roe v. Wade, women of color strive to define and protect their reproductive destiny.

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"Moving away from those labels has really helped in bringing in communities of color," Robinson said. "I can really see it in my work at historically black colleges." Proving how much labels appear to paint an unclear picture of American attitudes on the subject, a recent poll found that a record-low number of Americans -- 41 percent -- consider themselves "pro-choice," but in another poll, a record number, 63 percent, did not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

Robinson also raised perhaps the most important policy issue in the search for a solution to the abortion debate, particularly in communities of color: sex education. She cited a program launched by one of the Planned Parenthood affiliates in California, in which young, single mothers help to engage young teens in comprehensive sexual ed. The goal is to help educate younger girls so that they make safer, more informed and more responsible sexual-health choices.

The program reinforces the importance of employing creative solutions to find effective messaging ambassadors on the issue of reproductive rights. With unmarried and poor women more likely to seek an abortion, such programs could play a key role in decreasing the number of abortions overall as well as in communities of color, if only more funding and support existed for them.

As for conflicting racial and cultural attitudes toward abortion 40 years after Roe v. Wade, Feldt said that the subject isn't really so complex after all. "I've traveled all over the world," she explained. "Ultimately, it doesn't matter what ethnicity you are, what race you are, what color you are. There are some basic human issues and basic human needs, and people who really have concern about women and women's equality and the well-being of children always want women to have access to reproductive health care."

She concluded, "Women can't have any other power in the world if they don't have the power to determine their own reproductive destiny."

Keli Goff is The Root's political correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.

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Keli Goff is The Root’s special correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.

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