Abortion is a medical procedure that women undergo to end their pregnancy. The World Health Organization estimates that 40-50 million abortions occur every year, which is around 125,000 abortions per day. Even as millions of abortions are occurring every year, several countries are proceeding to implement restrictions on abortion rights. For instance, an astounding number of 42 abortion restrictions were enacted from January 1st to May 15th, 2019 in the US alone. These limits include requiring parental consent in cases of abortions for minors under the age of 18 as well as the prohibition of common procedures.
Forcing women to continue an unwanted pregnancy or forcing them to seek an unsafe abortion is a violation of their human rights, infringing the right to privacy and bodily autonomy. Although pro-life supporters argue that abortions should be restricted as every individual has the right to life, abortions should be legalized in the US and globally because it’s what the majority of women want, it will prevent women from undergoing high-risk procedures, and it will better serve underprivileged communities.
What Do the People Want?
In 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the constitutional right to abortion in the court case of Roe v. Wade. However, in 2019, nine states in the US have passed bills to limit abortion procedures. For example, Louisiana passed a bill to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, Alabama voted to ban abortions in nearly all cases, Utah and Arkansas banned abortions after the middle of the second trimester, and Iowa and North Dakota limited the procedure to 6 weeks within pregnancy. Abortion rights advocates claim that limiting the procedure to before 6 weeks is as effective as a complete ban because many women do find out that they’re pregnant until after the 6 week period Contrary to the many challenges that states imposed upon the Roe v. Wade case, a poll released in June 2019 by Marist College and the PBS Newshour revealed that over 77% of American voters do not want Roe v. Wade overturned. Marist College also revealed that 62% of registered voters opposed abortion bans for 6-8 weeks pregnant women, and 70% of voters opposed legislation that would impose fines and prison time for doctors who perform abortion care. Nearly one out of every four women living in the US will have an abortion during her lifetime. Abortion must be legalized in order to secure the needs and health of thousands of women. Taking away the right to abortion will inevitably affect a great portion of the female population. 73% of women say that abortion is important for their vote in the 2020 US presidency, so why are we letting corrupt politicians make legislation regarding a woman’s body, when the majority of women want to keep their abortion rights?
Restrictions Only Make Things Worse
Attempts to restrict abortions won’t reduce the number of abortions; it will only push women to seek out other illegal/unsafe methods of ending the unintended pregnancy. The World Health Organization estimates that 25 million women seek out these risky abortions every year, most occurring in developing countries and carried out by either an unskilled provider or at a setting that does not meet minimal medical standards, or in many cases, both. This being the only option for so many women, it is very unfortunate how unsafe abortions are the third leading cause of maternal deaths worldwide. By legalizing abortion globally, hundreds of thousands of deaths can be prevented each year.
The Ones Who Are Harmed
Although pro-life supporters argue that the “baby” feels pain during an abortion, in addition to the idea that every person has the right to life, the fetus actually doesn’t start feeling pain until at least the third trimester. While it may be true that every person has the right to live, is it really the better option giving birth to a child who is unable to receive support from his or her parents? Unintended pregnancies without abortions often lead to a great burden on the parents, unstable families, or children getting sent to adoption centers or orphanages. The dull-witted individuals and organizations who work to dismantle the social safety net (foster care, orphanages, homeless shelters, or whatever’s left of Welfare) are the exact same people who are adamantly opposed to abortion.
Nevertheless, if countries passed legislation in support of pro-life, the people who would truly be negatively impacted would be pregnant women, especially those who are coming from underserved communities. Conservative states, which have high tendencies to impose greater limits on abortion rights, have the highest infant and maternal mortality rate in the nation, and that being said, the US has the highest maternal mortality rate out of any developed country in the world. Abortion restrictions negatively impact lower-income communities, including teenagers, immigrants, refugees, and people of color, because they pose a greater challenge having to pay for necessities, travel, or taking time off from work. By taking away the right to choose, many people of lower income are forced to work while being pregnant because they don’t have the assets to live comfortably, or in the opposing case, many low income individuals choose to leave their jobs to support their children.
Time For Change
It is crucial for communities to share this issue with local leaders, government officials, and congressional officers to encourage them to create legislation while networking with political figures who have control over the injustices of abortion laws. To help this cause, we can donate to abortion funds and clinics, participate in protests, volunteer at organizations dedicated to abortion rights, join pro-choice religious organizations, post on social media, and much more. Lastly, it is important to urge women to educate themselves about the consequences of not staying abstinent. In order to prevent future unintended pregnancies, we need to be knowledgeable about the choices which we make with our bodies, and we need to look out for one another.