The United States of America’s National Anthem includes the words “land of the free,” although I am consistently made aware of the freedoms that we as Americans, do not have. I have witnessed the government grant the freedom to censor important information about the corruption in the current system and that we, the citizens of this government, are not allowed to see it. I have witnessed the freedom that White, heterosexual males have compared to the restrictions indigenous, people of color, LGBT, and women have.
The fight against abortion is not a new issue. Planned Parenthood, a healthcare provider, has been targeted by anti-abortion groups for providing safe abortion, which is not funded by the government and/or taxpayer money. If the Trump administration dismantles Title X—which funds Planned Parenthood through Medicaid—less accessibility to contraception and STD screenings for low-income patients would be the result. Thankfully, a judge in Washington has temporary blocked Trump’s Title X “gag rule” which was set to take effect on May 3.
The legal battle of Roe v. Wade provided the constitutional right to an abortion in 1973. Before Roe v Wade was passed, women with financial means had increased accessibility to a legal abortion, while less affluent women, disproportionately belonging to minority groups, turned to illegal procedures. In the 1960s a study of low-income women in New York City found that almost one in 10 attempted to terminate a pregnancy by illegal abortion, while almost four in 10 said a friend, relative, or acquaintance had attempted to obtain an abortion. In 1972 the illegal abortion mortality rate for women of color was 12 times higher than that for White women.
Recently there have been restrictions on abortion, based on several states’ legislation freedom to assert power and control over a pregnant person’s body. Georgia enacted a ban to abortion at six weeks, when fetal heartbeat is normally detected, naming it the heartbeat law. This provision not only strips away body autonomy, but many people can be unaware of their pregnancy in this short window of time, eradicating the option for abortion.
Alabama has taken a more radical approach by banning abortion, even in the cause of rape or incest, with the exception of a mother’s life being in danger. Doctors who perform abortions could face 10 to 99 years in prison. The rapist? Their amount of prison time was not mentioned or considered.
Alabama already has the highest rates of cervical cancer—which disproportionately affects Black women—in the country. Alabama is also one of the states with high infant mortality rates. Reducing more healthcare access will only exacerbate the situation.
Kay Ivey is the Republican governor that passed the most restrictive abortion law in the nation. Ivey’s website states, “I believe every life is precious. As a pro-life governor, I will always fight to protect the unborn. I believe the Second Amendment is clear and it ought to be protected. I will always defend our right as law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.”
I am perplexed with the idea that people can fight so hard to protect an unborn fetus and are willing to rewrite the constitution to do so. Although, on the prospectus of restricting the accessibility of firearms to protect the children, students, movie-goers, concert-goers, and many more people who were previously fetuses, is not up for debate. I do not understand the logic of self-describing oneself as pro-life when people that die of gun violence all had lives that were already in motion, already capable to achieve something greater than themselves and were most likely embraced into this world.
I do not understand the term pro-life when being pro-choice is pro-life: for the doctor performing the abortion, for the child that will be born later on when the pregnant person is ready, or for the pregnant person—who should have the right to decide what to do with their body and their future.
With the recent addition of Brett Kavanaugh as an appointed justice on the Supreme Court, the states enacting harsh and demoralizing bans on abortion hope to bring the case to the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. Many states are attempting to implement similar or stricter bans.
Overturning Roe v Wade would significantly impact people of color; more than a third of people in this country (25 million) would lose access to abortion.
A survey showed that 73% of respondents do not want to see the Supreme Court overturn of Roe v Wade. In January 2019, New York passed one of the strongest protections for abortion access, stating that if there is an overturn of Roe v Wade, patients and doctors would not be penalized and legal abortion would still be accessible.
Contact your federal and state senators to urge them to ensure equitable access to all reproductive health services. You should encourage your congressperson to support the Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act and Freedom of Choice Act. Plan-B is also still an option that is available over the counter and has a four year shelf life.