Thursday, June 24, 2010

Who's Really Being Thoughtful about Abortion?

Abortion touches everyone.  The Guttamacher Institute estimates that “one in three American women will have had an abortion by age 45”.  Statistics aside, these women are people we know, our mothers, daughters, friends, and co-workers.  NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland and other pro-choice organizations support every woman's fundamental right to make her own choice about pregnancy and child-bearing.  It is a fundamental tenet to the pro-choice community that women must be trusted to make their own decisions regarding their reproductive health care.  Tracey Brooks weighed in on this issue in an editorial in the Huffington Post.  Brooks states that “every state should value women and families enough to have strong reproductive health care policies.”  Sadly, this is not the case.  A large number of anti-choice legislation targeted at women's reproductive rights has been proposed this year. Even more worrisome, many have been ratified into law.

Anti-choice legislators believe that creating barriers limiting access to abortion care will deter women from seeking abortions.  The reality is that these barriers only increase the cost of healthcare and may jeopardize a woman's health.  According to the Tracey Brooks, “studies have shown that increasing restrictions on access to abortion, such as the newly popular strategy of requiring ultrasounds before abortion, do not serve to change women's minds.”  Besides being ineffective and dangerous, anti-choice laws are offensive because they deem women incapable of making responsible decisions regarding their own reproductive health

Last month, the Guttmacher Institute released a study which showed that the reasons women give for having an abortion “underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life.”  According to this study:

“Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.”

Women who seek abortions have made a thoughtful and personal decision.  This decision is a private one, and by basic right belongs to no one but the individual considering the procedure.  Lawmakers must consider this when crafting legislation.  If anti-choice legislators were truly concerned with reducing the number of abortions, they would enact policies that support women and their families – like expanding access to family planning services, increasing access to affordable childcare, guaranteeing a livable wage and equal pay for women, and ensuring that women and men have adequate parental leave after the birth of a child – not policies that undermine women’s integrity and autonomy by restricting their ability to choose what is best for them.

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