EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 27, 2013

Column: Fight for women’s rights is far from complete

We live in strange times for women.

After 200 years, the decision has been made that it’s time to permit women to have combat roles.

Yet more than 280,000 women have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, putting their lives on the line for their country. In more than 10 years of war, more than 150 women have been killed and more than 800 have been wounded.

“This is a formality. Women have been in combat for a long time. But now they will serve on an equal footing,” says Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who lost both her legs in combat as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot in Iraq.

Lifting the ban on combat roles for women may be mainly symbolic at this point, but it will make it much easier for women to be promoted in the military and to earn better pay. About 200,000 jobs in the military that officially have been closed to women will become competitive for both genders.

Once men scoffed that women could meet the same physical requirements required of men in the military. No longer. Physically fit women volunteering for combat roles will meet the same standards men must meet.

Forty years after the Supreme Court made abortion a legal choice for women, we just went through an election in which the Republican presidential nominee wanted to nominate justices to the Supreme Court who would do away with the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Candidates for the Senate disparaged the “legitimacy” of some rapes or sarcastically told women they should just keep their knees braced together to avoid unwanted pregnancy.

Forty years after Roe v. Wade, more than 2,000 new state-level restrictions have been put on access to abortion, making it much more difficult for many women to find or afford access to terminating an unwanted pregnancy.

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