Last year, as a result of the 2010 midterm elections, the 112th Congress became the first in a generation to start out with fewer women in its ranks than the Congress before it. After decades of slow incremental growth in the number of women serving in Congress, last year we actually lost ground, dropping from 93 to 92 women (thankfully Kathy Hochul’s victory last summer returned us to the previous level.)

But 2011 also saw the House of Representatives engage in an unprecedented assault on women’s reproductive rights. Whether it was their passage of a bill to defund Planned Parenthood or their legislation that would allow hospitals receiving federal funds to refuse reproductive care to women even if their life was in danger, time and again, the House of Representatives proved it was hostile toward women’s rights.

These things are not unrelated. The fact is, the more women we elect to office, the more women’s voices are heard and the more the issues and values important to us become a priority. It’s especially true on the issue of women’s reproductive freedom. As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade today, we must recommit ourselves to doing all we can to elect more pro-choice Democratic women to Congress in 2012.

Looking just at the Senate, we have an unprecedented 11 Democratic pro-choice women running, either as the incumbent (6) or challenger (5). We also have a real opportunity to regain a pro-choice majority in the House of Representatives with Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the helm.