Recently, states like ours and Georgia have suppressed women’s reproductive rights and the safe, ready access to an abortion. In Indiana, Governor Holcomb signed a bill that outlawed certain types of abortion procedures after the first trimester and also allows healthcare providers to forgo abortion procedures and medicine for religious concerns. In Georgia, abortion is outlawed after the first heartbeat is detected or, in other words, after six weeks. These backdoor bans have been passed under the guise of religious freedom and to allow healthcare providers more options. However, like the longstanding problems with reproductive care in other states like Kentucky and West Virginia, which now only has one clinic licensed for abortion procedures, this is not a positive development in how we deal with abortion and is dangerous for women’s rights.
The distinction between being pro-choice and being pro-abortion needs to be made in the discussion on reproductive rights and abortion. Neither I, nor anyone I have ever met, have seen abortion as the desired option. However, as a pro-choice person, I understand the necessity for a woman to have that option because of the many factors that go into making a decision like abortion. Women have gotten abortions for thousands of years due to economic or religious reasons, familial pressure, or even the survival of the mother. Even if we ban the use of abortions, they will still happen, as twenty-five million illegal abortions already do. However, they will happen with a less safe alternative that endangers the life of the mother.
The issue with banning abortion is the right-to-life politicians that call for outright abortion bans give little resources to be allocated to caring for a child after birth. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a leading policy research organization for reproductive health, forty-nine percent of people who get an abortion are below the poverty line and a majority are women in their twenties and/or already have children. Seeing this trend, it is easy to see the connection to abortion from the unavoidable burdens of childcare, whether it be putting life on hold, stretching family-wide resources too thin or not having enough resources at all to care for a child properly. The paradoxical nature of not providing women who are expecting with enough resources to give the child the best life possible, but yet expecting them to follow through with a pregnancy is where abortions arise an option. This does not account for health-vital abortions which are non-negotiable as a path for a woman to pursue.
The often used trope by politicians to deny extended childcare and reproductive care to women is blaming the woman themself for the decision and painting a woman who wants to get an abortion as irresponsible, naive and misguided. This stereotype is not only false, but it endangers women that try to get an abortion. When boxing women into a single narrative on abortion, legislators are able to create restrictive laws that are based around making women “live with their choice.” The legislation becomes inherently flawed as it does not recognize the wide demographics of people it effects nor the healthcare community’s opinion at large.
If the goal is to get the number of abortions to go down, banning abortion is not the right path to go down. To give a woman the ability to pursue abortion as an option is not to recommend it, but guarantee her health and safety. In fact, countries that allow abortion without stipulation have a lower average rate of abortions than those that ban it outright or heavily restrict it.
The solution lie in returning abortion as a resource that all women in the US, not just in New York or California, are able to pursue as well as expand resources for childcare. Paid maternity leave, daycare, and guaranteed food security for mothers should be the priority of lawmakers, not reducing their options in face of a pregnancy.