It's not just women of child-bearing age ferociously fighting for abortion rights. Women in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond are taking a strong, principled stand against the Supreme Court's potential overturning of the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade.
Why this particular demographic? For one, many of these women lived through the 1973 ruling that grants people a federal constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. These women witnessed the feminist revolution firsthand and are not going to silently watch its demise. If the court strikes down Roe, it would mean women and girls today would no longer have the same rights that these women – and their grandmothers – had decades ago.
In partnership with Know Your Value and Forbes, we’re highlighting just a few of these women, all of them 50 and older, who are fighting for reproductive rights today.
Cecile Richards, 64
Richards for over a decade led Planned Parenthood, the leading provider of sexual and reproductive health care, including elective abortion care in the United States. In 2011 and 2012, she was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Her work hasn’t stopped. She’s currently the co-chair of American Bridge 21st Century, and she is ringing the alarm bell on what’s at stake if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
“I talked to a doctor [in El Paso] the other day who talked about a woman coming in who could not get a safe and legal abortion in the state of Texas,” Richards recounted. “The closest place she could go was New Mexico, but that would require passing a border checkpoint, which she could not do. These are the real people, these are the real impacts of people no longer having the right to determine whether and when to have a child. And, we are going to continue to see these stories again, not only in Texas, not only in Oklahoma but increasingly in half of the country. I know that what the American people do not want to see is not only this right overturned, but they do not want to see doctors and women going to jail.”
Heather Booth, 76
Booth has been an organizer since the 1960s.
Her contributions in the reproductive rights started before Roe v Wade, when she helped a family friend (who was pregnant and nearly suicidal) find a doctor to perform an abortion.
She went on to create the Jane Collective, an underground group of activists who came together in the 1960s to provide abortions to thousands of women at a time when the procedure was still outlawed.
She has since dedicated her life to speaking out about abortion rights and teaching others how to organize effectively and use activism as a tool to bring about change.
"Whatever it is that people are doing, whether you're a teacher or in a company or whatever ... even if you're not working, there are ways to be active, you can tell us your story, storytelling is powerful. You can service others, you can work on a lobby effort, you can work on a legislative effort, you can write letters, you can make phone calls, you can be involved in elections," Booth told Know Your Value. "You need to build the power of people to defend this most intimate freedom of our lives."
Isabel Allende, 79
Allende is best known for her many bestselling novels, including “House of Spirits.” But the 79 year old has also done a lot to advance women’s reproductive rights on an international level.
In her 20s, Allende worked at a feminist magazine in her native country of Chile and would regularly write about taboo subjects, including abortion. She didn’t start her professional writing career until she was about 40, so much of her writing and speaking out about reproductive rights was amplified well into and after her 50s.
Her non-profit, the Isabel Allende Foundation, has given hundreds of thousands of dollars towards organizations that aim to protect the reproductive rights of women.
Nominations for the 2022 Know Your Value and Forbes “50 Over 50” list is open. If you know a woman who is actively stepping into their power in their sixth decade or beyond, we would love to hear from you! Go here for more details.