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Saturday, August 8, 2020

The right to choose, something nobody wants to lose

Now that midterm voting has come to an end, policies, social issues and basic human rights are up for debate once again. One of which is the right to abortion.

There are many arguments against abortions, most of which are based off of misunderstanding or a lack of information. At the end of the day, the decision someone who is pregnant makes it up to them

In 1973, the Supreme Court affirmed a women’s right to abortion in the Roe v. Wade decision. The court declared that Texas statutes that criminalized abortion were unconstitutional. 

After 45 years of safe, legal abortions and years of debate from anti-abortion politicians, the right to choose is being threatened at a nationwide level.

A memo Brett Kavanaugh, now a Supreme Court justice, stated that the Supreme Court “can always overrule” Roe v. Wade, according to CNN. 

More recently, President Donald Trump made a promise to nominate justices who would “automatically” overturn Roe v. Wade, according to The Washington Post. 

When Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court, the discussion surrounding reproductive healthcare intensified. 

Over the course of the last decade, politicians have passed more than 400 state abortion restrictions, according to Planned Parenthood. 

In November, Alabama and West Virginia both passed statutes restricting women’s right to choose. Alabama’s statute recognizes “the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children,” according to York Dispatch. 

Meanwhile, West Virginia amended their constitution to overturn a 1993 court ruling allowing taxpayer-funded abortions.The statute also laid the framework to criminalize abortion entirely.

An illustration of a woman sitting on an exam table talking to a doctor.
Illustration by Cole Sandhofer

Although these statutes, along with many others have language in them that threatens the right to an abortion entirely. Right now, people seeking abortions can use Roe v. Wade as a precedent to challenge their state’s legislation. By citing the court’s ruling that a ban on abortion is unconstitutional, people who seek abortion can defend themselves. But, if Roe v. Wade were  overturned, it could set a federal precedent and 20 U.S. states have laws in place that could restrict abortion, according to the Guttmacher Center for Population, Research Innovation and Dissemination.

Before abortion was legalized under case law, illegal abortions made up one-sixth of all pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Women who survived those procedures sustained severe injuries, including “perforations of the uterus, cervical wounds, serious bleeding, infections, poisoning, shock and gangrene,” according to the ACLU. Now that abortion is legal, it is one of the safest medical procedures in the U.S., with a safety record of over 99 percent, according to Planned Parenthood.

If we want to keep people safe and healthy, access to abortions must not be threatened.

History shows that even when abortions are illegal, it does not stop people from seeking them out. This still happens today and if anything, it leaves them to choose from more dangerous alternatives. 

Many people who oppose abortion try to use adoption as an argument. But, it is entirely unnecessary and, in some instances, unsafe to go through the chemical and physical trauma of childbirth if the impregnated person doesn’t want to. 

In 2016, there were nearly 11,000 children in the foster care system in Washington state, 29.9 percent of which were awaiting adoption, according to the Child Welfare League of America. There are plenty of children who need safe, loving homes as it already stands. 

Some argue against abortion because they believe it is murder. However, according to the ACLU, the reality is that over half of all abortions occur in the first eight weeks of pregnancy and less than one percent of these procedures take place after 21 weeks. 

According to Live Science, although the receptors in the skin that sense injury develop between 8 and 15 weeks after conception, the neurons in the spinal cord that can transmit this to the brain do not develop until 19 weeks into pregnancy. Then the neurons in the spinal cord need to continue to extend fully to where the brain is located which doesn’t happen until after 23 weeks. 

So when politicians discuss abortion in the third trimester, they are only trying to sway the public into joining them on their mission to end a person’s right to choose. They are seldom speaking factually or accurately. 

If politicians wish to prevent abortion, then they should begin by making birth control more accessible.

There are many different types of birth control. The most common being the pill. When used correctly, birth control pills are 91 percent effective, and usually cost up to $50, according to Planned Parenthood. Other birth control methods such as IUDs and implants are up to 99 percent effective, but can cost substantially more. Without insurance, these birth control methods can cost up to $1,300, according to Planned Parenthood, making them inaccessible to people with less means. 

Under the Affordable Care Act during the Obama administration, employee insurance was required to cover birth control. But under the Trump administration, employers can deny providing contraceptive coverage based on religious beliefs, according to CNN. 

At Western, students are fortunate enough to have access to the Student Health Center. The center can provide some alternative solutions when insurance does not provide the care a student needs. The health center also provides free condoms to students, which, when used correctly, are 85 percent effective, according to Planned Parenthood.

It is important to recognize that other communities do not have the same abundant resources college campuses do. Our rights in Washington state might not yet be threatened, but we cannot close our eyes to what is happening in our country. 

The Western Front Editorial Board is composed of Alyssa Bruce, Julia Furukawa and Ray Garcia 

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