In a country where wearing a mask during a pandemic is a political debate, it is sadly not surprising that we still argue over reproductive health rights. On an issue as personal and difficult as this, it shouldn’t be anyone’s business. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that people are able to make informed decisions and have access to appropriate reproductive health services – not to make those decisions for them.
After the who passed of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, many are worried about the survival of Roe vs. Wade, which ruled that the Constitution protects the right to access a safe and legal abortion. Allowing this access to safe abortions has helped reduce the number of deaths caused by illegal and unsafe abortion practices. Before the court ruling in 1965, illegal abortions a sixth of all pregnancy-related deaths. If Roe v. Wade is canceled, four states – Mississippi, Louisiana, North and South Dakota – have laws in place that would automatically ban all abortions, which would then lead to an increase in illegal abortion procedures. The upcoming elections also add to concern that the decision could be overturned, causing a collapse in women’s rights and reproductive rights.
Many anti-abortion people assume that someone would terminate their viable pregnancy for no reason, but the truth is that most abortions are performed in the country. First 12 weeks of pregnancy. Additionally, most late abortions are performed for serious medical reasons, often to save the lives of parents. I think most people can agree that abortions should be as rare as possible – but after banning them people will take a dangerous and illegal route. We can decrease the number of abortions by providing comprehensive sex education in schools, ensuring that there is accurate information about contraception and having contraception readily available. Unfortunately, Congress was unwilling to pass a bill funding comprehensive sexuality education. They are, however, willing to fund ongoing abstinence only programs that generally fail and rely on fear tactics.
Many people criticize family planning for providing abortion services but quickly forget about everyone else services They provide. In addition to access to abortions, they provide contraceptive services, emergency contraception, vaccines, STD and HIV screening and treatment, reproductive cancer screening, Pap tests, drugs like PrEP and PEP that help prevent HIV; pregnancy and antenatal care services, transgender health services, vasectomies, and other sterilization services. Planned Parenthood participates in a fundraising program called Title X allowing them to supplement birth control, gynecology and other reproductive health services for those who cannot afford to pay for their health care services. In 2019 alone, millions of patients have been able to access adequate abortion-free services from Planned Parenthood, demonstrating their multifaceted ability to provide health care.
There are so many situations in which a person may seek to terminate their pregnancy. Many of them are much more complex that now is not the right time. What happens if pregnancy prevents recovery from rape? What if that person is a young adolescent who is about to pay the price for repeated incestuous sexual assault? What if it was a ectopic pregnancy that would kill both them and the baby? The decision to have an abortion is not up for debate by people forcing themselves into the situation – it is a deeply personal matter that can affect someone’s life forever. It is not up to you or the government to decide whether or not someone else should make the decision to terminate her pregnancy.
I believe that all life is precious – before and after birth. However, I also understand that it is not for me to assert my personal beliefs about others. I am not a pro-life, but a genuine advocate for pro-life must be committed to preserving life in every situation. One problem I find with many pro-lifers is their ability to choose the life that matters. A lot approve of the death penalty. There are also pro-lifers who find themselves in opposition to human rights movements like Black Lives Matter. It’s pretty simple – either you respect all life or you don’t.
I’m a lot of things, but I’m a young black woman first – and I know how reproductive rights abuse will negatively affect my community and myself. African Americans have the upper rate of unwanted pregnancies and abortions in the country. It is imperative to realize that without access to safe abortions, the parent may decide to have an illegal abortion, have their baby and keep it – even if they are not ready to parent – or give the baby to join the thousands other children without parents in the country. Black women are too two to three times more likely to die in childbirth. It would be illogical to force the same women who die disproportionately in childbirth to have babies anyway – and at the risk of their own lives.
Being pro-choice doesn’t make a person pro-abortion – it means they’re pro-procreative. Pro-choice means supporting an individual’s ability to make decisions about their own body. It’s reasonable to worry about other people’s lives, but it’s extremely unreasonable to assert your judgments and beliefs about them. The choice should be left to the individual, his family, his health professionals and his religious advisers. The right to abortion should never be a matter of law or public opinion.
Aliyah D. White is an opinion columnist for The Cavalier Daily. It can be reached at [email protected].
The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Cavalier Daily. The columns represent the opinions of the authors alone.