Abortion: Whose Choice?
Keeping the Faith - Faith Elder
Across the country, abortion is a polarizing issue, taking the national spotlight as new policies aim to limit access to the medical procedure.
While abortion and contraceptives are still legal in Washington, that is not the case in other states under new "heartbeat" and "Born Alive" laws passed this year.
On Tuesday, the Alabama Legislature passed a bill banning all abortions with the only exclusion being for when the mother's life is endangered by the pregnancy. This is after Ohio, Mississippi, and Georgia have tightened abortion regulations, banning all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, when the fetus' heartbeat is first detected.
It's no accident that these policies are coming up now. The abortion issue is becoming a rallying cry for the Republican Party to pull the GOP together for the 2020 election. With the appointment of Brett Kavanagh to the Supreme Court, conservatives are hoping to overturn Roe v. Wade, as any suit brought before the court regarding these policies will likely have that result.
But these policies are more than just words on the page and a crutch to advance a political party. They have the possibility of greatly influencing the health of many women.
But since legislators are typically not health professionals, the bills regarding this issue are based heavily on misinformation. The inaccuracies and vague statements in these new policies have the potential to harm women, even if they aren't seeking abortions.
Legislation in Ohio includes the statement that any procedure or medication that prevents a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterine wall is considered an infanticide. This mean a wide variety of birth control methods will be banned, including birth control pills, IUDs, and hormonal implants. This is expected to in- crease rates of pregnancy in all communities and for teens.
To define these medications as infanticides ignores that fact that these medications are of- ten prescribed to young women for reasons other than preventing pregnancy. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 14 percent of women using these methods of birth control use them for non-contraceptive reasons. The hormones in these medications - estrogen and progestin - help regulate menstrual cycles, improve acne, and re- duce the effects of anemia.
Additionally, as these bills are not written by medical professionals, some of the proposed policies are not medically possible.
The Ohio Legislature recently considered a bill regarding ectopic pregnancies, which occur when a fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the fallopian tube. Despite these pregnancies being
extremely dangerous and painful for the mother, the new pol- icy would require providers to remove the ovum from the fallopian tube, and then re-implant it into the uterus. This treatment would only be offered to women whose lives are endangered by this condition.
The problem with this requirement is that no such procedure exists. Once an ovum is removed from where it is attached, there is no way to re- attach it. However, this bill ignores this scientific fact, instead mandating a procedure that does nothing to benefit women.
The Ohio bill is not alone in mandating nonexistent procedures. The Montana and North Carolina legislatures both approved bills that would penalize health providers for failing to care for an infant who survives an abortion attempt, despite testimony stating there are al- ready laws preventing infanticide in cases of failed abortion.
While both bills were vetoed, North Carolina Gov. Roy Coo- per clearly stated the f laws with the policy, saying, "This need- less legislation would criminalize doctors and other healthcare providers for a practice that sim- ply does not exist."
But besides these bills being poorly written, misinformed, and wide reaching, their fundamental goal is to remove a woman's right to decide what happens to her body. By giving rights to the unborn, women lose their own rights.
And as long as Roe v. Wade stands, this limitation of access and choice is unconstitutional.
If legislators were truly pro- life, they would understand that women's lives are more than their use for bearing children. Policies that limit access to legal abortions result in higher maternal mortality rates, as women turn to unsanitary and untrained black-market procedures.
There is no excuse for trading a living woman for a potential fetus. The overall message is you don't get to enforce your morality onto others. If you believe abortions are wrong, don't have them. However, you can't make everyone else who sees otherwise give them up, too - especially if they are in desperately in need of treatment.