Women’s Reproductive Rights Are Not Up For Grabs


Photo taken from Flickr

A woman carries a sign in a protest to protect the right to her own body. Women have been marching in protest for various rights they have been denied for over a hundred years now.

Taylor Riley, Staff Reporter

Whether you are anti-abortion or pro-choice, there is one thing that is clear — women should have full control over their own bodies — and here’s why.

Roughly 200,000 teenage girls get an abortion every year in America. The flipside to that scenario — not terminating the pregnancy — is not as heroic as you may think. Children born to teen mothers are more likely to be born prematurely and at a low birthweight which consequently increases the chances of infant death. The children of teenage mothers are also more likely to endure higher rates of abuse and neglect than children born to adult mothers.

Teenage pregnancy doesn’t just affect the girl and her child but unexpectedly American taxpayers too. According to a study done by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, teen childbearing across the nation costs taxpayers at least $7 billion each year in direct costs associated with health care, foster care, criminal justice and public assistance.

…people who don’t agree with abortion are entitled to their opinion

Despite this, people who don’t agree with abortion are entitled to their opinion. But, if you are going to be pro-life then support the foster care systems, pour money and resources into schools in lower socioeconomic areas and support children born into poverty. If you are really pro-life then support them during their life — not just when they’re in utero.

Avoiding unwanted pregnancies is the common goal in both anti-abortion and pro-choice legislation. But not all of those who are pro-life are supporting better, more affordable access to birth control or improved and updated sex education in schools. Merely two platforms that, if implemented on a national level, would decrease the rate of unwanted pregnancies drastically.

Those who are against abortion rights are entitled to their opinion, but that is exactly how it should remain — an opinion. It is as if the government wrote legislation banning people from eating animal products because the legislators believe being vegan will save the Earth. Sounds ludicrous right? People should be able to choose to be vegan or not. Often religious values are brought into these types of comparisons, but the fact remains that there is a separation of Church and State established in the First Amendment of our Constitution.  I, and neither are many Americans, looking to have another’s religious ideologies forced upon us by the government.

Photo taken from Flickr
Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe, left) and her Lawyer Gloria Allred. They carried a sign that read, ‘Keep Abortion Legal.’ Ultimately, McCorvey and Allred won the supreme court case, called ‘Roe v. Wade.’

The world before Roe v. Wade was a scary one for sexually active women in America. Only four states had repealed all anti-abortion laws, 13 had reformed laws and the remaining 37 had extremely severe laws against the procedure.

Although there were strict laws against abortion, this didn’t stop women from seeking them out one way or another. According to various estimates, there were an estimated 200,000 women per year who performed ‘self-abortions’ that were exceptionally dangerous and often times fatal.

The only catch to the seemingly progressive supreme court decision in Roe V. Wade was that it only mandated a women’s right to privacy concerning the abortion procedure within the first trimester of pregnancy (the first 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy). It was up to states to dictate their stance on abortion law for the remaining two trimesters.

Ever since then, every state has had varying levels of freedom and restriction when it comes to how much control they gave women over their own bodies. Alabama and Georgia recently passed new legislation restricting the right so much so that the right itself is essentially non-existent.

The Georgia law implements the “fetal heartbeat” rule in which you can no longer get an abortion when a heartbeat is detected. Often heartbeats can be detected around six to eight weeks and some argue that oftentimes women don’t even know they are pregnant at that time.

…every state has had varying levels of freedom and restriction when it comes to how much control they gave women over their own bodies

The Alabama law took a much harsher stance, the law bans abortion entirely with the only exception being if there is a ‘serious health risk.’ There is no exception if the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest. The Alabama law does not punish a woman for getting an abortion, however, it would punish doctors with 10 to 99 years in prison for providing an abortion. The Alabama state government is hoping for their legislation to challenge the rulings of Roe V. Wade in the supreme court.

This law is problematic for many reasons. The 25 Alabama senators who signed this bill were all white and male. It is blatantly absurd and simultaneously terrifying for a group of men to write and sign off legislation to dictate what women can and cannot do with their bodies.

The Alabama Governor, Kay Ivey— a woman, did sign the bill.

This brings to light a different issue— the complicity of white women in the context of abortion. White privilege is not only present but prominent in the fight for the reproductive rights of women. Anti-abortion laws disproportionately affect black and minority women by a landslide. A study by the Centers for Disease Control shows that 18% of births to Hispanic women were unwanted and 23% for black women— compared to the 9% reported from white women.

Photo taken from Flickr
Three women demonstrate their first amendment rights by protesting for their reproductive rights. Throughout history, protesting has been a way to get the attention of politicians to pay attention to issues that the people care about.

The higher percentages of unwanted births are directly attributed to the lack of accessibility to contraception and lack of healthcare providers in low-income areas. As long as the disparities in the economic and health care security continue, minority women, will continue to be affected by a large rate of unwanted pregnancies.

Women’s reproductive rights bring up a lot of skeletons in the closet for America such as equal representation in government and the lack of competent sex-and-health-education in public schools and unequal access to health care.  These are issues that America often brushes under the rug and moves on, all the while Americans are stunted in their understanding of women, their bodies and their rights.

Ultimately, it should never be up to a male-dominated government, a religion or even fellow citizens who disagree with abortion to decide what a woman can do with her body.

A woman should always have a choice.