October 18, 2018

The right to choose

On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court passed Roe v. Wade, which found that, under the right to privacy, a woman had the right to make her own medical decisions, including the right to get an abortion. And yet, Donald Drumpf said in a recent interview with 60 minutes that he will select “pro-life” Supreme Court justices. A woman’s right to an abortion might be up for debate again.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against women that would not personally want to get an abortion. I’m pro-choice, not pro-abortion. But, I am against anyone who want to take away that choice.

Many conservatives believe that life begins at conception, and that not carrying that ‘life’ to term is murder. However, that claim makes very little sense, seeing as about 75% of fertilized eggs miscarry. Most of these miscarriages happen so early in the pregnancy that the women does not even miss a period. Many of these eggs have chromosomal deformities or fail to implant on the uterine wall. If life actually began at conception, just about every sexually active women in America would be guilty of “murder.”

Until the 23rd week mark, a fetus is about as capable of surviving on its own as fingernail clippings are capable of growing into a human clone by themselves. Even at 23 weeks, only about 20-30% of fetuses survive outside of the womb. We don’t consider cutting our fingernails murder, so who could possibly confuse abortion with murder?

Unfortunately, far too many people in government know far too little about the female body, which leads to laws that damage women’s health. Just to give an example, Todd Akin, former U.S. Representative for Missouri, once tried to argue that a woman cannot get pregnant from rape, citing that “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” I guess this sort of idiocy is what you end up with when you’ve only been exposed to abstinence-only education. In reality, women are more than twice as likely to get pregnant from rape then consensual sex. These sort of basic misconception about the female body and conception lead to damaging policies against abortions in many states.

In Todd Akin’s home state of Missouri, only five places provide abortions, four of those being clinics. That is one roughly one for every 14,000 square miles, or one to service every 611,090 women living in Missouri.

The reason for the small number of abortion clinics in Missouri may lie in TRAP (Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers) laws. TRAP laws “mandat[e] the width of hallways, complex HVAC systems, down-to-the-inch dimensions for operating rooms, and specifications for outfitting janitor’s closets,” requiring the clinics to uphold ridiculous standards, despite abortions having an over 99% safe success rate.

These laws do absolutely nothing to help women. In fact, according to Planned Parenthood, “medical experts like the American Medical Association and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose TRAP laws because they don’t improve safety — just the opposite. They hurt women by blocking access to safe medical care.” These laws have nothing to do women’s health and everything to do with limiting and shutting down places that provide abortions. These laws are a prime example of politicians putting their alt-right views ahead of women’s health.

Many abortions are necessary for either health or economic reasons. Many pregnancies cannot be carried to term because they will endanger the health of the mother severely. Other pregnancies (contrary to Akin’s false assumption) are a result of rape.

Also, not all women feel ready to have a child. Raising a child costs about a quarter of a million dollars, and many women simply cannot afford it. In addition, 3 in 10 teen American girls will get pregnant at least once before age 20. Most are not prepared to put their education on hold to raise a child. Forcing 15% of the American public to raise a child before they are financially prepared is neither beneficial to the mothers or the children.

7 in 10 Americans believe Roe v. Wade should remain the law of the land. Unfortunately, there are politicians who disagree. Mike Pence is one of those who puts his anti-abortion agenda before helping women. As governor of Indiana, he “signed a contract to take $3.5 million from the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which provides aid to low-income families, and gave it to the Pennsylvania-based anti-abortion group ‘Real Alternatives,’ that lies to women to ‘actively promote childbirth instead of abortion.’” Just let that sink in.

The fact of the matter is that banning abortions would not actually stop abortions from happening, it would just make them more dangerous. According to the Huffington Post, “Given the results of government crackdowns in other areas, such as Prohibition and the War on Drugs, it seems unlikely that making abortion illegal will actually reduce the number of abortions per year.” In addition, in 1965, before Roe v. Wade, illegal abortions made up one sixth of all pregnancy-related deaths. If Trump-appointed Supreme Court Justices overturn Roe v. Wade, the only person they will be helping is the Grim Reaper.

Regardless, to remove abortion rights is to take a step back 50 years to a time when women’s bodies were policed by others. Frankly I think that we have taken enough of a step back already this year. I am disgusted that we are still at a point where men have any say at in a decision that only concerns women. I am horrified that this issue is even up for debate because, let’s face it, if men could get pregnant, there would be an abortion clinic on each block and each procedure would come with a free coffee.

There is a small silver lining to this situation. Since election day, over 50,000 people have donated to Planned Parenthood (an organization that provides low-cost breast cancer screening, women’s health care, and abortions) in Mike Pence’s name. You can increase that number by going here. Finish some of your Christmas shopping early by donating in the name of a relative.

At the end of the day, if Roe v. Wade goes down, it won’t go down without a fight, and its supports (myself included) will never stop campaigning for its reinstitution. Planned Parenthood alone services the same number of people that are members of the NRA, and anyone in politics knows how vocal they can be. Imagine the same number of people campaigning for something that saves lives instead of ends them.

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