New Abortion Laws Wage War On Women’s Freedom

Grace Aitken, News Editor

Alabama passed legislation this month that bans abortions in almost all stages of pregnancy: with no exception for rape or incest and no consideration for the age or stability of the mother. Abortion would be a felony charge and doctors found guilty could get up to 99 years in prison, more time than most rapists get.  

While Alabama is the most restrictive to date, it isn’t alone.

Missouri, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Utah and Arkansas have also passed legislation restricting abortion. Many of these states have passed “heartbeat bills,” which ban abortions at six weeks. Six weeks is long before many women find out they are pregnant. 20 other states have proposed or are deliberating forms of restrictions on abortion.

Most legislators signing and voting on these bills are men with little education about female reproduction and abortion. Missouri congressman Barry Hovis (who used to be a police chief) stated that many rape cases are less than because they are classified as “date rape and consensual rape.” The definition of rape is that it is not consensual. Date rape is as scary and violent as other kinds of rape, and belittling it to less than is demeaning and dangerous.

He is just one example of a larger issue surrounding education. Many legislators seemingly know little to nothing about women’s reproductive health, and are making life changing decisions completely ignorant about the issue.

These bans are specifically designed to violate the constitution, make their way to the Supreme Court, and with two new anti-choice justices, overturn Roe v. Wade. They are an overreach in government power, and a direct violation of the rights of women everywhere.

Abortion bans don’t stop abortions. It will only force women who desperately need the procedure to go to great lengths to get them: even potentially putting their life at risk. A Guttmacher Institute poll showed that the abortion rates in countries where it is criminalized are similar to the rates in countries where the procedure is legal. Women in countries where abortion is outlawed just have a much higher chance of dying due to unsafe abortion procedures.

Comprehensive sex education in public schools and access to affordable birth control are both effective ways to lower abortion rates. For instance, abortion rates declined by 26% between 2006 and 2015, presumably because of better access to contraceptives under the Obama Administration. Legislation like the Affordable Care Act mandated employers cover long term birth control like IUDs, providing women with affordable birth control that is safe and can last more than a decade.

Conservatives are attempting to limit women’s’ access to safe contraceptives, while simultaneously banning abortion. For instance, President Trump has repeatedly attacked the Affordable Care Act, and has attempted to destroy it simply because President Obama enacted it. If conservatives cared about actually preventing abortions as much as they care about reducing women to second class citizens, they would be funding affordable national reproductive healthcare, and mandated sex education in all public schools.  

There is a myth that women receive abortions because they are too selfish to carry pregnancies to term. The idea that women who do not want to become mothers are selfish is an old and dangerous myth that has debilitated working women for centuries.

This idea is also irrelevant to the abortion debate. 59% of women who have abortions already have a child, which proves that abortions are less about refusing motherhood and more about reasons such as money and medical issues.

Due to the lack of support for single and poor mothers in the US, having a child is economically debilitating for poor and working class citizens. 49% of women who get abortions are living under the poverty line. If abortion is banned, these women and their children will be forced to remain in poverty due to the immense costs of raising a child.

Unlike what many anti choice activists say, adoption is usually not a viable option. In 2017 more than 690,000 children spent time in the badly broken US foster care system. On average 250,000 children enter it every year. Those who age out of the foster care system have a less than 3% chance of earning a college degree, and have a higher chance of homelessness, unemployment, and incarceration.

No matter what a woman’s reasons are, no one should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term. Whether it is due to medical complications, career obligations, financial instability, or any other reason, the government has no place in a decision so personal and private as pregnancy. The decision to receive an abortion is between a woman and her doctor, not the republican party.

Almost a quarter of women will receive an abortion by the age of 45, and no amount of restrictions decrease that number. It will only force women to seek illegal abortions through unsafe means, putting the lives of sentient women at risk.

The consequences of overturning Roe v. Wade will be dire, and a direct step back for women in this country. Let’s not go back to the age of coat-hanger abortions. Keeping abortion safe and legal saves lives, while banning abortion destroys them.