Posted on June 7, 2022 at 10:57 pm

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My Body, My Choice: Perils of Overturning Roe vs Wade

Nearly weeks after the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe vs Wade, the United States of America stands divided between pro-life vs pro-choice.  However, what this means for millions of women: is the eradication of agency over their bodies and loss of privacy.

 

While the public discourse has been dominated for decades by focusing on policy and morality, approximately 1.5 million women obtain abortions each year. A majority of these abortions are due to unintended pregnancies; however, there are a plethora of other reasons behind a woman’s decisions. It would be much more beneficial to society if there was a more holistic argument that captures the economic, societal, familial, and emotional factors. Let’s take a deeper dive into these pro-choice arguments and ultimately, what it means for women’s rights.

 

What Does Pro-Choice Mean?

The simple dictionary definition of pro-choice means supporting the belief that a pregnant woman should have the freedom to choose an abortion or whatever she wishes with her body. Let’s not forget that pro-choice people can also be pro-life. One person might be pro-life for themselves, but they understand that another person has the right to choose what they want to do with their pregnancy because it is their choice and their body.

In reality, the argument should be framed as Pro-Reproductive Rights and Anti-Abortion. What does this mean? Simply, pro-reproductive rights are defined as:

  • to keep abortion legal and you believe people have the right to be able to access abortion
  • oppose laws that ban abortion, as well as laws that keep abortion out of reach — like laws that shut down health centers or that force patients to jump through hoops to get the care they need
  • support access to birth control, sex education, care at Planned Parenthood health centers, and other forms of sexual and reproductive health care

 

My Body, My Choice: Perils of Overturning Roe vs Wade

 

 

The War on Women’s rights?

Having an abortion is an immensely emotional, painful experience, and taking away this right harms women’s rights. It is important to note the reasons behind a woman’s motivation to take these steps. First of all, higher proportions of younger women, women with no children, and never-married women identified interference with education or work and unreadiness for a child or another child as reasons for having an abortion. There is nothing more dangerous than bringing an unwanted child into this world and also not having the financial capabilities to provide for its well-being. While this is one argument, there is also the well-being of the fetus or personal health.

Quite honestly, preventing women and girls from accessing an abortion does not mean they stop needing one. That’s why attempts to ban or restrict abortions do nothing to reduce the number of abortions, it only forces people to seek out unsafe abortions.

Unsafe abortions are defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “a procedure for terminating an unintended pregnancy carried out either by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards or both.”

They estimate that 25 million unsafe abortions take place each year, the vast majority of them in developing countries.

My Body, My Choice: Perils of Overturning Roe vs Wade

 

What can be done next?

Over the last 25 years, more than 50 countries have changed their laws to allow for greater access to abortion, at times recognizing the vital role that access to safe abortion plays in protecting women’s lives and health. Here in the US, we need to codify Roe vs Wade, which means passing a law that would affirm a pregnant person’s right to an abortion without undue.  interference. The most effective way to codify Roe v. Wade would be for Congress to pass a law, such as the Women’s Health Protection Act, that would be binding for all states. This act was passed in the House on September 24, but it is considered unlikely to pass in the Senate.

Criminalization and restrictive laws on abortion prevent healthcare providers from doing their job properly and from providing the best care options for their patients, in line with good medical practice and their professional ethical responsibilities. Criminalization of abortion results in a “chilling effect”, whereby medical professionals may not understand the bounds of the law or may apply the restrictions in a narrower way than required by the law. This may be because of a number of reasons, including personal beliefs, stigma about abortion, negative stereotypes about women and girls, or the fear of criminal liability. There needs to be a movement to eradicate laws that are doing this to medical providers.

Access to safe abortion services is a human right. Under international human rights law, everyone has a right to life, a right to health, and a right to be free from violence, discrimination, and torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Forcing someone to carry an unwanted pregnancy, or forcing them to seek out an unsafe abortion, is a violation of their human rights, including the rights to privacy and bodily autonomy.

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