California Senator Barbara Boxer once said, and I quote “In the early stages of pregnancy, the Government cannot intervene with a woman’s right to choose. That is it, plain and simple.” It is shocking how much reproductive rights have been challenged by lawmakers these past several years. While this is a women’s issue, it is something that everyone should care about because it affects more than just women, it affects our life in America. In 1973, Roe v. Wade (a decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court) secured a woman’s right to privacy and therefore the right to have an abortion. Before then, many women died after desperately turning to back-alley abortions. Just because they were illegal doesn’t mean they didn’t happen.
I have worked for companies such as NOW (National Organization for Women), Planned Parenthood, and NARAL Pro-Choice America and I have seen the good that can come from providing support and care to people who are faced with an unintended pregnancy, no matter what decision they make. It is from my experience that people who are against abortion are against it because they have not taken the time to truly think about other people. Abortion is not for everyone, but then again, neither is pregnancy. Whether or not you are morally opposed to abortion, it is important support other people’s right to choose what is best for them. Today, I will convince you to be Pro-Choice.
Despite laws being in place for years securing reproductive rights and a woman’s right to an abortion, they are still constantly being challenged and stigmatized by our society and our lawmakers. The Guttmacher Institute reports that by age 45, half of American women will have an unintended pregnancy, and 1 in 3 of them will have an abortion. Yet access to safe abortion is constantly being challenged by state lawmakers by making it near impossible to get an abortion. Thinkprogress.org outlines 694 provisions that were proposed just in the first 3 months of 2013 that limit what a woman can do with her body, how she gets pregnant, and how she chooses to end that pregnancy.
Many people who are against abortion are under the impression that making it illegal will end it when in fact it will not. Before Roe v. Wade was passed, many women would turn to unsafe way to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. This includes but is not limited to using instruments such as wire hangers and knitting needles to perform an abortion by themselves, overdosing on drugs to cause a miscarriage, or going to unlicensed doctors to get back-alley abortions. Restrictions to abortions doesn’t save lives like “pro-lifers” want, it just causes more casualties and kills women.
Abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood don’t just provide safe abortions, they also provide a myriad of other health services to women, many of which are low income. A report conducted by Planned Parenthood shows that abortion services only accounts for 3% of the services they provide. Other services include but are not limited to STI testing and treatment, cancer screening and prevention, contraception, and other health services. Yet Planned Parenthood and other health clinics like them are being defunded by lawmakers and protested by the “Pro-Life” movement.
Now that we have established why this is a problem, here is what we can do to help solve it. We need to fight the stigma, provide support to those faced with decisions about their family planning, and increase awareness. NARAL Pro-Choice America says, “Being pro-choice means protecting women’s access to safe, legal abortion. It also means working on ways to help reduce the need for abortion, like improving access to birth control. And it means supporting women who choose to carry their pregnancies to term.”
We need to provide more options for maternity leave and continue to fund programs like WIC, that way women who choose to continue their pregnancy have the support and resources they may need. Defunding groups like Planned Parenthood that provide care for women, many of which are low income, is not going to help…. much to the pro-life movements dismay. Increase awareness for options people have when faced with an unintended pregnancy and provide thorough sex education. Advocates for Youth reports that comprehensive sex-education allows people to make more educated decisions about their reproductive health and therefore lowers the rate of unintended pregnancy, and for that matter STI/STD’s too.
To help you visualize this better, I have three personal stories I would like to share with you. I have a friend who is in her early 20’s and along with a full-time job, she is also a full-time student at Valley College. Several months ago, even though she took measures to prevent pregnancy, she got pregnant. She knew that she could not properly raise a child at this current moment in her life. She works from 8 to 6 everyday as a nurse and then goes to school until 10 and doesn’t get home until 11. It wouldn’t be fair to the child for her to carry on this pregnancy, so she had an abortion.
Along with the financial cost of her abortion came the cost of being ostracized by her family. They kicked her out and it wasn’t until then that she felt bad for what she did, even though she did what was right for her. She has now overcome her guilt, knowing that she did was what best for her and her life, and now seeks solace and support in therapy groups full of other women feeling guilty about their abortion.
Several months ago, my own sister was faced with an unexpected pregnancy. She thought about having an abortion, because the circumstances in her life make having a child very difficult. She decided that she wanted to keep the baby and with the support of her friends and family, is now 8 months pregnant and is expecting a baby boy. She utilized government programs such as WIC to help her. Lastly, when my mother was in her 20’s, she had two abortions. She did not feel guilty about it because she knew that it was not the right time for her. Five years later she met my father and they had two children, my sister and me. If it wasn’t for my mother having an abortion, I would not be here.
So, I urge you, to support being pro-choice. Making it difficult to get an abortion doesn’t help, we know that. Do we want to revert back to when safe abortions weren’t accessible, so women used things such as wire hangers and knitting needles to impale themselves? Over-dosed on drugs or got botched back-alley abortions? Do we want to continue passing laws that limit what choices a woman makes about her own body? Are we going to continue to let radical “pro-life” advocates harass, mislead, and even kill people when practicing their right to free speech? The answer is no because that is barbaric! Women are full grown people with lives and desires and choices… and a child should be a gift, not a consequence.
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