FAIRFIELD — The Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, which established a nationwide right to abortion, was a historic ruling that divided a country 40 years ago Tuesday.
The nation’s divide on the landmark ruling has remained consistent over the years, a recent Pew Research Center survey found.
Since 1992, about six of 10 people say they would not like to see the court completely overturn the ruling. That opinion has wavered little over the course of the past 20 years, though the survey also found that about half of the people consider abortion “morally wrong.”
However, within the past several years, the issue of abortion has lessened in importance with those surveyed. In 2006, about 28 percent said abortion was a critical issue, 38 percent one among many important issues, and 32 percent not that important. By contrast, today, 53 percent view abortion as not that important, 18 percent critical and 27 percent one important issue among many.
In Solano County, there are those who still view abortion as a critical issue. Those who support the group 40 Days for Life regularly protest abortion – and more recently birth control – outside Planned Parenthood in Fairfield.
However, local organizations such as Planned Parenthood and Alpha Pregnancy Resource Center said the organizations are less concerned with keeping or overturning Roe v. Wade and are more concerned about patient care.
The organizations’ approaches to abortion are different, though not radically so.
Diedre Eckle, executive director of Alpha Pregnancy Resource Center, said the organization was founded 27 years ago to offer counseling to women who are considering abortion. The official stance of the organization is against Roe v. Wade and abortions, Eckle said, though they “do not judge.”
Alpha Pregnancy Resource Center offers counseling, post-abortion counseling, mobile services, STD treatment, parenting education classes and support services during pregnancy and during the first year of life. The center serves a younger demographic of women. The average age of clients is about 20 to 25, many of whom come to center with so-called crisis pregnancies.
Eckle said the organization’s objective isn’t solely to dissuade abortions. If a client seeks abortion because of financial or personal obstacles, Alpha Pregnancy Resource Center staff members strive to help remove those obstacles, Eckle said.
“Abortion is not a choice anybody wants to make,” she said. “We can help remove those obstacles.”
The center allows women to take parenting education classes and through them earn supplies such as baby clothes, cribs, formula, diapers and other essential baby goods.
Some clients opt for an abortion after counseling. In those cases, Alpha Pregnancy Resource Center does not make referrals to local abortion clinics.
“We do (counseling) without judgment,” she said. “They give her all the information she needs and welcome her back for recovery.”
Adrienne Verrilli, director of communications and marketing at Planned Parenthood, Shasta Pacific, said she is skeptical of this method of counseling.
It’s no secret that Planned Parenthood offers abortion services and the organization has often been demonized for it. But Verrilli, much like Eckle, is less concerned with the fate of Roe v. Wade and more concerned with preventing the need for abortions.
“Continued access the preventive care is important,” she said. “We do more to prevent abortion every day.”
About 95 percent of Planned Parenthood funding goes toward preventive care including birth control, counseling, STD treatment as well as cervical and breast cancer screenings. Clients also have the option of getting either surgical or medicated abortions after they come in for counseling.
Verrilli said the risk of receiving counseling from organizations that are openly against abortion is they often offer nonmedical, biased counseling and often use religion or falsified facts, such as abortion causes breast cancer or depression, to dissuade a woman.
“It’s not for us to talk a woman in or out of anything,” she said.
The public’s stance on abortion and Roe v. Wade may continue to waver, but to Eckle and Verrilli the issue will always remain personal to a woman.
“Abortion is a private and complex issue and very different for every woman,” Verrilli said. “We’re not here to judge.”
Reach Heather Ah San at 427-6977 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/HeatherMalia.