Abortion Rights: Back to the Future

Abortion Rights: Back to the Future

Adrienne BoettingerThursday,3 March 2016

Is abortion the only issue where both sides of the argument claim to be pro? With capital punishment, you’re pro or anti. Gun control? Pro or anti. Same-sex marriage? Pro or anti. But when it comes to abortion, you’re pro-choice or pro-life. It’s easy to see why both sides pick those terms — it’s easier to vilify the other side by calling them anti-life or anti-choice. But let’s call them pro-abortion and anti-abortion so it’s easier to parse out what each means and what the consequences of those decisions are.

I must start by saying it was very hard to write this article. A life-long feminist, albeit one who was raised in a Catholic household, I never liked that the issue of feminism always seemed to come down to abortion. “We’re more than just our uteruses!”, I would stridently claim each year my all-girls high school prepared for Women’s History Month. But another reason is that I know so many people for whom the issue is black and white. They see abortion as immoral. Period. And I’ve been afraid they would think I was evil. Although I grow older and less likely to have a child of my own, I’ve never really stopped wanting one and as such I have a hard time seeing myself choosing to abort. But I just as certainly can never see myself having the right to make that choice for another woman.

Like many people not confronted with an unwanted pregnancy – or a pregnancy where the fetus isn’t viable or my life was at risk – I don’t think frequently about abortion rights. Roe v. Wade fixed all that, right? Since then, no more back alley abortions or 14% maternal deaths coming from illegal abortions, right?

Wrong. Because ever since the Supreme Court added in uncertainty the states have been chipping away at women’s access to safe and legal abortions. Falsely claiming the moves were to protect women’s health (claims thoroughly knocked out by people who actually have experience in reproductive health), individual states have made laws here and there making it more and more difficult to get safe abortions. This doesn’t mean that fewer women will get abortions. Fewer women were already getting abortions because of better access to birth control and other factors that allowed them better control of their own health and maternal destiny. What these new laws mean is that more women will become sick and even die as they take greater risks to get abortions because safe ones aren’t available to them anymore.

So this Women’s History Month, see if your state is one of the many curtailing women’s access to safe and legal abortions. If it’s not, don’t rest on your laurels; remember your votes determine which elected officials will be in charge of nominating or confirming justices to the Supreme Court and other critical posts whose rulings hold a lot of power over what women can and can’t do with our bodies. Whether you believe in unrestricted rights to abortion or abortion only in the case of rape, incest or threats to the life of the mother, proposed and enacted legislation in Texas, Oklahoma and beyond are critical. Listen to the stories of some of the women directly impacted and learn what the procedures actually entail before you make up your mind. And then contact your local, state and federal elected officials to stop the gradual erosion to our reproductive rights that is sweeping the nation.

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Image Credit: Steve Rainwater on Flickr

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