The Denial of Accessible Reproductive Care in Canada and Us

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Table of Contents

  • History of Barrier
  • History of Abortion Rights and the Threat of the Heartbeat Bills Inaction
  • The Scope of the Barrier
  • Events, People, or Organizations which have Influenced the Barrier
  • Influences Upon the Inaction and Removal of the Heartbeat Bill
    Rights to be Possibly Violated for Women
    Strategies Utilized to Remove the Potential Barrier
    Evaluate the Progress in Removing the Barrier, Legal Ramifications of the Challenge
  • Legal Theories/ Precedents which have been used to Support the Change
  • Issues Associated with the Threat of the Barrier
  • The Ripple Effect of the Barrier
  • Laws in Place to Protect Communities that Could be Impacted by the Bill

History of Barrier

History of Abortion Rights and the Threat of the Heartbeat Bills Inaction

Throughout history, the medical procedure of abortion has been included in an ample amount of moral and religious arguments which have exploited the legal right once permitted to women. Prior to the mid-19th century, women had been free of judgment from the Catholic Church when seeking an abortion and had been legally protected (Ravitz, 2016). Women were granted the safe procedure of abortion to ensure the security of their own bodies, and until the fetus was felt moving, all abortions were enabled as a human life had previously ceased to exist (Ravitz, 2016). It wasn’t until the Pope Pius IX declared in the document titled “Apostolicae Sedis” that “[T]he penalty of excommunication for abortions at any stage of pregnancy” would result, discussed by Patsy McGarry (2013), this brought the topic of abortion into a religious and political discussion. The criminalization of abortion became final as of 1880 across America, enabling only women whose health would be compromised by carrying a child to receive an abortion by a physician (Ravitz, 2016). Almost one hundred years following the criminalization of abortion, Roe V. Wade was enacted which legally protects the right to receive a safe abortion, with the Supreme Court of America’s ruling in 1973, the decision continues to be supported across the country in varying percentages (Planned Parenthood, 2018). Although Roe v. Wade cannot be struck down without the support of the Supreme Court’s judges and the nation, Kristine Phillips has outlined the steps taken by Iowa at passing the Heartbeat bill (2018) prior to Ohio’s passing of the bill which will essentially end the ability to receive an abortion after six weeks (Stuart, 2018). President Donald Trump has expressed his support toward pro-life movements, and the conservative roster of Supreme Court Judges elected by the President has grown fear in American women as to if these new barriers towards their privacy, security and basic human rights of the Heartbeat bill, will eventually become a national norm (Shugerman, 2018).

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The Scope of the Barrier

The barrier of abortion restrictions being legitimized by governors across various states in America has both impacted the extension of women’s human rights including that of privacy, and security of a person. Such aspects are included within the “Fourteenth Amendment” within the U.S Constitution and the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. This extends this human rights barrier to both be a domestic and international legal issue. The potential support of the “Heartbeat bill” by the Supreme Court and predicted end to abortion accessibility through government funding in upward of 15 states is currently restructuring the foundations of gender and social equality in America (Shugerman, 2018). The abortion restrictions passed by Ohio continues to limit women and now twenty bills /legal barriers confining abortion accessibility are in existence, each bill has either diminished funding to abortion clinics, has enforced unnecessary medical precautions, and has ultimately stripped women of their ability to receive safe reproductive care and a political voice (Stuart, 2018). With the growth of pro-life movements and the comfortability of legal figures mixing politics with religion more states such as Iowa, has approved exactly to similar limitations against American women’s reproductive rights. Pro-choice supporters and much of the American population has not ceased the fight to keep women safe and rid the domestic equality, and human rights infraction which has been legally supported. This domestic barrier has grown to become international, advocates of women’s rights in developing countries argue that providing women with the ability to decide to delay an unwanted pregnancy will help to form a prosperous life for not only women but a countries economy (PAI, 2018). With the protection of abortion in America, much of U.S foreign assistance has been responsible for imposing policies which have “[P]ut that right out of reach for poor women around the world” to receive abortion care (PAI, 2018). The domestic barrier of abortion restrictions will not stop the demand for abortion but will only increase the dangers, and the denial to women in developing countries to the access or education of safe sex and reproductive health has will continue to result in negative consequences.

Events, People, or Organizations which have Influenced the Barrier

Influences Upon the Inaction and Removal of the Heartbeat Bill

Each side to the argument of whether abortion should be a guaranteed right for all women across America or either should be limited to criminalized have legal and political support. Those who have encouraged the bill/ barrier and have fought to protect the future of an unborn fetus include pro-lifers and Conservative government leaders. Since the retirement of one of Roe v. Wades main defenders, Justice Anthony Kennedy, women have feared these groups input and control over what may happen with the future of their right to receive abortions (Shugerman, 2018). Organizations such as “Ohio Right to Life” use strategies such as exposing the number of abortions carried out in 2017 in Ohio, and to overall use guilt tactics and other forms of immoral persuasion to receive donations and support (ORL, 2018). Utilization of online forums or websites for petitions and donations to earn political and legal recognition for demands such as to squash a document written by the UN to legalize abortion in all states in America, the petition has over thirteen thousand signatures to date (Life Petitions, 2018).

Those opposing the bill’s survival and growth of abortion restrictions include women’s rights organizations, Planned Parenthood, and the American Democratic party (Bassett, 2017). The passing of the bill in Iowa and recent veto in Ohio means that reproductive rights organizations have been effective but must continue to stop any further limitations. The roles of organizations advocating for abortion rights include many campaigns and petitions created to combat advances made by the opposing party. They encourage political involvement by all those who are legally able to partake to better the outcome and ability for women to carry out their own self-determination. The American Democratic Party has taken many steps forward to advocating for the access to abortion and in a statement Tom Perez, “Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health” the chairman of the committee, represents the portion of the democratic party whose desire to include reproductive rights organizations opinions has shown great positive outcomes for the movements against the “Heartbeat bill” (Bassett, 2017). The movements in support of reproductive rights have made many advances throughout history and are determined to halt the possibility of the “Heartbeat-bill” in addition to reproductive limitations, and human rights violations of women extending nationally.

Rights to be Possibly Violated for Women

The oppression of women in America has been present throughout history, even being a highly relevant discussion within the American Medical Association prior to the criminalization of abortion in 1880 (Ravitz, 2016). The current barriers which would inflict major restrictions to medical rights of women also involve the possible social, political and economic disparities. The social aspects of re-implementing laws which essentially criminalizes abortion in Iowa, and Ohio reinstates those already pre-existing disparities and with the ignorance of government, the issue will only worsen. The guaranteed rights which are outlined within “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights” describes in article three that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of a person’, which has been violated numerously by the inaction of the “Heartbeat bill”. The rollback of abortion rights has become a topic highly discussed in the United States and Internationally, the election of Brett Kavanaugh as a supreme court judge has wedged a foot into the possibility of the conservative and pro-lifers’ opinions becoming a legal mandate (Planned Parenthood, 2018). Women have been denied the right to making decisions regarding their reproductive health as politicians and religious figures support the life of a fetus, rather than the social importance of a politically active citizen.

Strategies Utilized to Remove the Potential Barrier

The barrier inflicted upon women’s reproductive rights in America, mainly located in Ohio and Iowa after the signing of the Heartbeat bill, has not been taken lightly by the female population and human rights advocates. The pro-life movement has changed the politics of feminism and reproductive healthcare for women across America and has forced political and Judicial changes fueled by religion and personal opinions (Holland, 2018). Strategies which have been used to fight against the movements legitimizing the barrier(s) towards women’s reproductive healthcare includes pro-choice advocate marches etc., online petitions to reverse the “Heartbeat bill” and separate restrictions, the use of the media as well as political gain tactics such as the veto of the Heartbeat-bill in Ohio (Stuart, 2018). Although the “Heartbeat bill” has been signed and accepted by Iowa’s Governor which conflicts with the Governor of Ohio’s decision to veto the bill as he was “unwilling to provoke a court battle over the bill’s constitutionality he deemed certain to fail” (Freiburger, 2018). The nation holds many opposers to the bill which have held strong arguments to the lack of validity and constitutionality of the “Heartbeat bill” which has weakened supporters of the bills fight “[S]urviving in the nations highest court – even with the shift in the makeup of Supreme Court justices that President Donald Trump’s conservative nominations have ushered in” (Hatcher, 2018). Over 72% of American citizens support Roe v. Wade and disagree with it being overturned as well as the restrictions being enforced across the country (Planned Parenthood, 2018). The “American Civil Liberties Union” has promised to file a lawsuit to challenge the Heartbeat bills constitutionality if signed into law in more states with the inclusion of Iowa (Hatcher, 2018). With the support of human rights organizations, including the UN, and the overall intention on providing all American women with the healthcare and aid in decisions they deserve to make, the strategies of using legal morality and the support of accessible healthcare for women supports how the “Heartbeat-bill” violates guaranteed human rights to a socially active citizen.

Evaluate the Progress in Removing the Barrier, Legal Ramifications of the Challenge

The progress of removing the barrier in Ohio has been more successful than that of Iowa, even with the Governor of Ohio being a prevalent pro-life or forced-birth advocate. On December 21, of 2018 John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, vetoed the ‘Heartbeat-bill’ once again while passing a bill criminalizing abortion after twenty weeks (Chretien, 2018). On the same day, he signed in a bill which criminalizes the most common method of abortion (Chretien, 2018). Iowa’s Governor, Kim Reynolds, expresses her personal opinions from a moral standpoint which professionally and politically will impact the woman of Iowa rather than her personal beliefs (Ingber, 2018). These challenges have not stopped the movements of women supporting Roe v. Wade and the procedure of abortion, as well as the voice of practitioners and systems such as Planned Parenthood. The legal ramifications impacting the fight against restructuring the “Heartbeat-bill” and separate restrictions is the overwhelming number of conservative judges and lawmakers both in the supreme court and in many states due to the presidency of Donald Trump. The progress is slow as much of the population either doesn’t fully understand the extent to which states have been abusing Roe v. Wade or there is a lacking political involvement to stop Donald Trump at electing more conservative legal influences.

Legal Theories/ Precedents which have been used to Support the Change

The two legal theories which apply and support the need for this potential and already partially enacted barrier to be changed is Feminist Jurisprudence and Critical Race Theory. The involvement of politics and the connection of the legal system within the discussion of abortion applies the legal theory of Feminist Jurisprudence. The legal system has controlled and made improper decisions regarding the functions of a woman’s body, as parts of society and those in power believe that controlling women in economic, social and political aspects include their right to an abortion. The decisions made regarding whether the right to safe abortion should be provided does not include the many social concepts which impact a woman, nor does it include what women of the pro-choice movement believe in (Edelstein, 2018). The passing of the ‘Heartbeat-bill’ in Ohio and later Iowa, lacked the discussion of its oppressive influence towards women, as well as the potential health risks of at home abortions on women seeking an abortion (Edelstein, 2018). The Democratic National Committee of women’s media director Elizabeth Renda stated ‘This unconstitutional bill is nothing but a thinly veiled attack on Iowa women’s most basic rights and freedoms — every woman deserves the fundamental right to make decisions about her own body with her doctor,’ when discussing the bills enaction in Iowa, the use of politics and the legal system to determine a reproductive right without the inclusion of a woman’s opinion supports why Feminist Jurisprudence can be issued to support the change.

Secondly, Critical Race Theory can be applied to support the need for a change of the barrier on human rights titled the “Heartbeat-bill” and separate restrictions placed on abortion in America. Critical Race Theory describes the inequality and structure of race which is a socially constructed concept created by the white community (CRT, 2016). The economic, social and political inequalities between races can be linked to the reasoning that white communities have become interested in their industries and influence minority populations through their lack of involvement in the market and politics, which increases poverty and criminality (CRT, 2016). This supports the case against the ‘Heartbeat-bill’ as it proves the marginalization of women as persons in minority groups as well as on the basis of sex (CRT, 2016). The “Heartbeat-bill” exudes oppression and control onto women in all mediums of society, in addition to the bill’s physical aspect, which goes against the theories understanding that all laws should focus on equality and not oppression. Therefore, the “Heartbeat-bill” will and has helped to exert the dominance of white, wealthy ideals furthering oppression on to women and collectively impacting the legal and social relevance of women.

Issues Associated with the Threat of the Barrier

The barrier towards American women’s rights to security of a person, privacy, and unbiased healthcare provision is included within the state restrictions against abortion and the essential criminalization of abortion at six weeks for women in Ohio and Iowa. The countries strictest abortion bills according to journalists such as Brian Wiest and Sasha Ingber (2018) has been signed by Ohio and Iowa and the author of the bill, Janet Porter, is hopeful that the supreme court will “[W]elcome the bill with open arms” (Chuck, 2018). The threat of the barrier becoming a national restriction for women has become more apparent with President Donald Trump and newly elected pro-life Judges in the supreme court, including Brett Kavanaugh (Shugerman, 2018). Roe v. Wade protects this right for women, but with the restrictions being accepted by lawmakers across the country, going as far to criminalize abortion at six weeks, the end for American women to access abortion is occurring. Anti-abortion politicians such as the Vice President, Mike Pence, are attempting to “defund” Planned Parenthood, which will result in loss of sex education, access to contraceptives, and devastate the impoverished as well as minority communities (Planned Parenthood, 2018). Millions of women and young girls will face miseducation and denial of access to reproductive and sexual health needs (Planned Parenthood, 2018). Accessibility to abortion for women of developing nations is influenced by America’s involvement in the country, where the economic and political value of a woman in a developing country is needed and can be destroyed with the inability to abort an unplanned fetus (PAI, 2018). Overall, restricting abortions for American women will influence developing nations and will negatively impact the future of the sexual and reproductive health as well as education of the female population.

The Ripple Effect of the Barrier

The “Heartbeat-bill” now signed by Iowa and recently vetoed by Ohio rather than the less promising outcome of the bill being vetoed by Iowa’s governor (Mosher, 2018). The impact of the bill will influence society drastically as criminalizing women and practitioners for abortions after six weeks has been argued to be unconstitutional and will result in deaths of American women. The political praise that the ‘forced-birth movement’, described by Jean Hannah Edelstein (2018), has received has exposed the oppressive values towards women which States such as Ohio, and Iowa accept with open arms. Criminalizing abortion at six weeks and limiting access is the basis of the “Heartbeat bill” and the many new reproductive rights has given key evidence towards the “undermining” of protections once outlined by Roe v. Wade (Shugerman, 2018). The clear misunderstanding by politicians and forced birth advocates is that by criminalizing abortion, attempting to defund and remove safe and accessible abortions by trained practitioners will not stop women from having abortions (Edelstein, 2018). The accurate data which will become true with the “Heartbeat-bill” and infliction of restrictions of abortion across America, is that preventable deaths amongst women will increase (Edelstein, 2018). The involvement of politics and organizations against abortion will not end abortion, and the effect will be the resulting deaths and health emergencies resulting from at home abortions (Edelstein, 2018). The ‘Heartbeat-bill’ will fulfill forced abortion advocates and conservative politicians’ desires but will result in the negative ripple effects of wrongful imprisonment for seeking own self-determination, and the increase in deaths associated with abortions completed without trained professionals.

Laws in Place to Protect Communities that Could be Impacted by the Bill

The foundation which protects Canadian women from the possibility of abortion rollbacks or the enaction of a bill like the “Heartbeat-bill” is Canada’s branch of public law known as Constitutional Law. Canada’s Constitution includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which was formed and revised by the branches of the government known as Legislative, and Executive. The Executive branch has the job of making and implementing legal, and political decisions for Canadian society (Executive Branch of Government in Canada, N/A). Whereas the legislative branch essentially “makes the laws of the country”, also known as Canada’s Parliament (Snyder,2015). Canada’s Charter is outlined in sections and includes the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all citizens and visitors of Canada. With the specific barrier impacting the right to privacy and security of a person in America being violated for women with the “Heartbeat-bills” intention on ending abortion, the Charter protects that from that ever happening in Canada (Judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada, 1988). Section seven of the Charter identifies the right to “[L]ibery and security of a person…”, which had been originally tested by section 251 of the criminal code, which significantly delayed pregnant women from seeking medical treatment in the form of abortion, violating section seven (Judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada, 1988). The Charter of Rights and Freedoms asserted the removal of section 251 from the Criminal Code, and by enacting any form of legislation which would deny a pregnant woman the access to abortion in Canada would violate section seven of the Charter, ruling to be unconstitutional.

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