The Female Body: Who is in Control?

Just weeks ago was the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. In 1973 the Supreme Court decided on the Roe v. Wade decision, making abortion a constitutionally protected right in early stages of pregnancy. Nationally we have come a long way in terms of access but more and more we are seeing setbacks. Why are we moving backwards?

Abortion is a word that makes society cringe. It is a topic that even though about 1 in 3 American women will have had an abortion by age 45 people avoid the conversation at all cost. But for those 1 in 3 women, and all the people in their lives, the conversation is unavoidable. Women who receive these services in the United States are far-ranging:

  • 58% of women having abortion
  • 61% have one or more children
  • 85% are unmarried
  • 69% are economically disadvantaged
  • 73% report a religious affiliation
  • 36% of women are white
  • 30% are black
  • 25% are Hispanic
  • 9% are of other racial backgrounds

Many of these facts disrupt the stereotypical image of someone who receives an abortion.

Abortion rates are the lowest they have been since Roe v. Wade. The Guttmacher Institute released a report stating that in 2011 there were 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women. So why are rates dropping? Since the release of this report there have been numerous suggestions as to why rates are consistently dropping. In my opinion, the connection between declining abortion rates and birth control availability.

The Affordable Health Care Act is not perfect, in conception and implementation However, there is no denying that it gives women the best access to birth control ever seen. Every plan provided because of the Affordable Health Care Act must “cover the full range of prescription birth control methods for free with no co pay”. This includes implants, pills, IUDs and more. Some forms have limited brands that are not free but nonetheless there is a possibility.

Despite advancements legislation in the last year has been drastically attempting to alter accessibility to both abortion and birth control. For conservative politicians who want to leave women with out the option for either one I pose a question: How do you expect this to work?

By limiting access to birth control, by for example, not forcing employers with religious objections to offer birth control to employees won’t abortion rates increase? The logic is completely off.

And just because in some states abortions are more accessible on the surface does not mean they are easy to obtain. For example, in Minnesota, the parents of a minor must be notified before said minor can receive the abortion. This may sound like common sense; but consider if the girl was raped by her father. Do you think that man will give permission for his daughter to abort the baby? Probably not.

Not only are women themselves at risk but anybody involved is potentially in harm’s way. In some states, clinic workers and surgeons at abortion clinics risk their lives every day to help these women. An individual in Oregon that is part of the National Abortion Federation states, “both doctors and staff live in constant fear that someone with opposing views will try to physically harm them while entering or leaving the clinic. I offer bullet proof vests to any doctor that wants one”. Clinics have to hire escorts so women can safely get to the clinic doors.

Anti-choice individuals picket outside of clinics, some even offering false information regarding “crisis pregnancy clinics” that masquerade as abortion clinics until the women get inside and are shamed away from abortion. You don’t see pro-choice individuals walking around hospitals encouraging pregnant women to abort their babies. That would be silly right? But how are individuals picketing abortion clinics any different, forcing their life choices onto others? To be pro-life is essentially to be anti-choice. And anti-choice is hurting too many women and girls.

All women regardless of their own PERSONAL reason deserve the option to be there. Most women have to undergo counseling of some sort before the procedure, they are fully aware of the risks at stake for their own body. Many often first hand become aware of the extreme shaming our society offers women who have undergone the procedure. In certain areas women feel the control of their bodies slipping away from then. The girl who was sexually abused, the devout Christian woman who does not want to admit to unprotected sex, the mother of three who cannot afford to raise a fourth child. These are women’s lives, and their well-being at stake. Because that is what this conversation is really about: control. And women deserve more of it.

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