“The deaths stopped overnight in 1973.”
The thing that bothers me most about people who want to overturn Roe v. Wade is the self-deception they practice about what the actual effect of doing so would be. People either don’t care or are simply too young to know what horrors we would be returning women’s care to if we were to again outlaw abortion. Like Griswold v. Connecticut or Eisenstadt v. Baird, many people simply grew up taking access and legality for granted. Sometimes it seems as if people believe that abortion did not exist in any meaningful form before SCOTUS decided in favor of Roe in 1973, because we don’t teach the grisly details of the illegal abortion era in history courses.
Being pro-choice, despite the demonization by conservatives and the modern Republican party, simply means that we will fight tooth and nail for the legal choice. We fight because our system of sex education and reproductive self-determinance is imperfect enough that we still have women with unwanted pregnancies. We fight because pregnancy is not always safe. We fight because no one should have to carry a non-viable fetus to term. And we fight because the alternative is too terrible to think about.
We don’t want people to have abortions who do not want them. What could be any clearer about being pro-choice?
Yet the trend of nibbling away at Roe has in the last year given way to states and even the U.S. House of Representatives trying to take giant bites away or doing away with access altogether.
We are seeing a war on women’s freedoms becoming increasingly acceptable in public discourse. Our president, a Democrat, supported the Human Health and Services decision to overrule the FDA in ensuring access to Plan B over the counter because he was too concerned by the prospect of his daughters getting access to understand the importance of immediate access. I confess I was and am horrified by the kind of parent who would rather have a pregnant twelve-year-old than allow that girl access to drugs that would prevent pregnancy. Because any twelve-year-old who needs access to Plan B is a girl who has been raped*. Why compound the evil of having a twelve-year-old suffer an unwanted pregnancy with all its dangers for developing bodies by preventing timely access to Plan B through prescription requirements?
Personhood amendments are no longer advocated only by the fringe, but are endorsed by mainstream politicians. There is no greater social dialogue discussing that these would ban all abortion (including cases such as ectopic pregnancy) and could ban some fertility treatments and birth control methods, including the most common form, oral BC pills.
There are very few ways for us to deal with the issue as a matter of public policy, and I would argue there’s only one ethical stance:
- Preserve Roe v. Wade, roll back some of the obstructionist nibbles, ensure full sex education and access to birth control. Ensuring that only wanted pregnancies are allowed to happen and prioritizing the health of mothers will reduce abortion rates, children in need of adoption/foster care and complications from pregnancy.
- Outlaw abortion and allow women seeking to end pregnancies to start dying, becoming infected and sterile all over again through back room abortionists.
- Outlaw abortion and in the interests of preventing illegal abortion, require women to submit to pregnancy testing and subordinate their rights to those of potential human beings who may never be born. Criminalize miscarriages that cannot be proved to be natural**. Allow women with dangerous pregnancies to suffer complications and risk death.
Only one of these options treats women as full human beings with the right to make choices about their health without uninformed governmental interference. I know which one I choose.*Children cannot consent to sex. **This is not merely hyperbole, as investigation of women suspected of inducing miscarriage has happened in multiple states.