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1973 was the year that the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade. Women everywhere celebrated their newfound access to safe abortions. However, 45 years later, in 2018, safe and legal abortions are being questioned in the United States. Soon, women may lose their right to safe abortions with court cases popping up in practically every state concerning women’s reproductive rights.
Supporters of the ban think this will stop the “murder,” as they call it, of fetuses, but that’s not true. Before 1973, plenty of abortions were still taking place in the United States. However, rather than being safe and legal, they were performed secretly at risk to the mother’s life.
Typically, women who want abortions in countries where they’re illegal use certain drugs to terminate their pregnancies. Though these drugs are illegal, they are not too difficult to obtain, just like many other illegal drugs. However, the drugs are unregulated, so there are more risks involved that wouldn’t be an issue at a legal abortion clinic. Additionally, many women who obtain these drugs do not know how much to take and can easily overdose. It’s also possible for them to take the wrong drug by accident.
However, when a woman truly wants an abortion, these risks are ones they are willing to take. In fact, according to a study cited on the National Institutes of Health, around half of the 40 million abortions performed each year are done in an unsafe manner, resulting in around 70,000 deaths.
Thus, making abortions illegal would not stop them from happening, but it would be putting women at greater risk.
People are against abortion for a number of reasons, with the main one pertaining to religion. When deciding whether abortion should be legal, I hope the government realizes religious arguments should have no role in the decision. After all, the United States is a country with freedom of religion and separation of church and state; therefore, one cannot make a decision for the entire population of the country based on a particular set of religious beliefs.
The idea that abortion is murder is also a ridiculous one. I agree there is a timeframe where it could be considered murder; when the baby is considered able to live outside the woman’s body, then yes, that would be killing a human being. Before this point, though, there is no way that it can be considered murder. Most abortions take place in the first eight weeks of gestation, and at that point, a woman is only “killing” a collection of cells that is barely considered a fetus and most definitely not a human being. Abortion is not murder, but banning abortion could be.
Sometimes, a woman’s life is in danger from the pregnancy, and the safest action for her to take is to have an abortion. You cannot tell me that a collection of cells deserves “life” more than a living, breathing woman. In many of those situations, the baby is not even expected to live anyway. This woman already has a life, and maybe even a family and other children. She’d be forced to leave them behind for a collection of cells. Banning abortion is basically saying that murdering cells is wrong, but letting a woman die isn’t.
There are countless reasons why women get abortions, and they are all valid and respectable.
Sometimes, a woman doesn’t want to screw up the life she already has. If a woman is in school, for instance, being pregnant—even if she gives the baby up for adoption after the fact—can pose serious challenges and cause many issues. Typical prenatal care consists of around a dozen doctor’s visits, assuming there are no complications, not to mention the physical impact on a woman and lifestyle considerations such as diet and exercise. Then there is the issue of the cost of pregnancy, which can be quite expensive. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the cost of prenatal care typically costs several thousand dollars per pregnancy, assuming the woman has insurance.
Other times, a woman does not want to go through the adoption process or risk the possibility of having the child go through the United States’ failing foster care system that ruins so many children’s lives. Adoption is a long and complex process with many different issues to address, such as choosing a type of adoption (i.e., closed, semi-open, open), selecting a public or private agency, attorney, or facilitator, and reviewing prospective families and choosing one (and waiting for them to accept you). For women trying to avoid a major disruption of their lives due to a pregnancy, adoption doesn’t solve that issue.
People who are staunchly against abortion and the right for women to choose often like to blame the woman for getting pregnant and believe that she should suffer the consequences of her actions.
But what about women who are raped and then become pregnant? In what world is that their fault, and why should the woman have to suffer the consequences of this? Having a baby out of rape would just be a constant reminder to the woman of the trauma she went through. Not to mention if it is a younger girl who was raped, it could possibly ruin her life, and she might never accomplish the things she would have if she did not get pregnant from a situation she could not control. Ultimately, forcing a woman to have a child for any reason is absurd and is indicative of a patriarchal society.
With that being said, do not even get me started on how many males try to input their opinion into this situation. It is not their body, and they will never experience the emotional and physical trauma a woman has to go through because of pregnancy. They also do not have to experience the burden of carrying a child they do not want for nine months during which people constantly judge—or even shame—them.
Additionally, people will blame the woman for her “stupid” mistake of getting pregnant but almost always seem to miss the part where the man is just as much to blame. I will say, though, that if the United States makes the horrible decision to ban abortions, then there should be some kind of law that ensures the man suffers the financial and emotional consequences of producing a child just as much as the woman (something much more stringent than child support that so many men skirt). It’s only fair that if a woman has to suffer for her actions, then a man should have to suffer for his as well.
Making abortion illegal does nothing but hurt women and take away their rights while putting the woman at risk, emotionally and physically. In fact, a study from a research group at UCSF found that women who are denied abortion are more likely to experience serious complications from the end of pregnancy, including eclampsia and death, more likely to stay tethered to abusive partners, more likely to suffer anxiety and loss of self-esteem, and less likely to have aspirational life plans. Abortions will happen whether they are legal or not, and the United States, as well as all other countries with illegal abortions, needs to wake up and realize that. There should be no more debate—women should have access to legal and safe abortions. After all, the Supreme Court stated that abortion is a fundamental right under the United States Consitution. And that was 45 years ago.
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