Abortion is a Human and Civil Right

Women in the United States have been fighting for an expansion of the role of women in American society for decades. From Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Tarana Burke, activists have worked to forward the feminist movement for over 200 years. Yet, women are still so often defined by an ugly caricature of what femininity “should be.” Subservient. Docile. A body to be used. A body to be gutted, emptied, displayed, commodified. A body to be given to every man but not the woman who owns it.

This rhetoric and treatment of women is prevalent within the United States and has become especially relevant with the introduction of the Heartbeat Bill into southern states like Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri. While the United States is often labeled as a “progressive” country, its policies are regressing to misogynistic ideals similar to the very countries radical conservatives claim to resent, countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan under Sharia Law – a law that is still not as restrictive on women’s healthcare as the Heartbeat Bill proposed as it has further exceptions for the health of the mother and less prison time imposed on those who chose to have an abortion (1).

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The impact that this bill could have on the women of the United States and the consequences on their resounding communities at large is crucial and critical issues that must be examined. The bill varies from state to state but leaves one resounding message – that women should not be allowed autonomy over their own bodies. The reality of the Heartbeat bill coming into effect and its legality, the reason behind most women’s abortions, the repercussions of limiting access to safe abortions, and the emotional trauma that this has the potential to force onto women are all important facets of the impact of the Heartbeat bill that must be addressed in today’s political climate.

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It is incredibly important to note that abortion is still safe and legal, even within the states that have passed the Heartbeat Bill. Under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection and Due Process Clause, the Supremacy Clause, and the majority ruling of Supreme Court case R According to a randomly sampled survey administered by the Guttmacher Institute twenty-five percent of women have an abortion because of “inconvenient timing”, twenty-three percent because of “financial reasons”, and nineteen percent because of having “too many children to provide for.” Typically, these reasons are hand in hand with financial stress. One in ten women who seek an abortion procedure is on welfare. Forty-nine percent of women looking for abortion are under the poverty level. Eighty percent report that they do not have enough money to cover basic living needs, especially when concerning the expensive needs of an infant child. Only five to six percent of these women will have the resources to obtain a college degree, making it that much harder to find a financially stable job that also allows time to take care of the child (6). If already in an unstable financial situation, the USDA standard of an “annual 12,000 dollars” for childrearing could easily bankrupt the mother completely. Poverty can not only cause health problems and physical pain as financial stress can onset “depression and anxiety”, as well as harmful physical changes such as spiking “blood pressure”, but can have long term repercussions for a woman and her family’s future (7). Poverty increases the risk for negative conditions like food insecurity, inadequate nutrition, substandard housing or homelessness, unsafe living conditions with exposure to violence and harmful substances, attending underfunded education systems, and can lead to developmental and behavioral issues for children and mental health issues for parental units (8). The trauma associated with the environment that often comes with being impoverished leads young women to have an abortion rather than raising a child in unsafe, unaffordable living conditions.

Eight percent of women choose to have an abortion because of “relationship issues” or “lack of a spouse.” The term “relationship issues” encapsulates everything from “partner’s drinking” and “physical abuse” to “unfaithfulness, unreliability” and “absence.” Women trapped in abusive relationships know that introducing an infant into such an unsafe environment not only greatly endangers the potential child, but further endangers the safety of the mother. When women in abusive relationships focus more on their pregnancy or children and less on the abuser, the abuser tends to become more reckless and demanding of their attention. Emotional and physical violence can increase drastically, leaving the woman in a much more intensely complicated and traumatizing situation (10). Similar trauma applies to cases where women have substance-addicted, alcoholic, or otherwise unreliable spouses as the woman would face a disproportionate burden caused by their partner’s emotional neglect and absence.

Seven percent of women have an abortion because of “physical problems with . . . health” or “problems affecting the health of the fetus” (6). There are a plethora of health complications that can affect this choice – from health issues directly related to pregnancy if women are high-risk and have been told having a/another child could potentially kill them to chronic or terminal illnesses like cancer or Crohn’s disease. Problems affecting the health of the fetus are also numerous, from the fetus dying in the womb and the woman choosing not to give birth to a stillborn to severe birth defects like severe SMA that would ultimately kill the baby within its first couple months of life. These complications create a massive physical and emotional toll, and oftentimes women choose abortion in order to prevent further pain and suffering for themselves and/or for the fetus.

Another seven percent of women have an abortion because they feel like they are “too young” or “too immature”. Twelve percent of U.S abortion patients are teenagers or children (6). Most of these teenagers are still in high school, living with their immediate family, and are without an independent source of reliable income. Taking care of a child during this time leads to a “truncated education, inadequate vocational training, economic dependency and poverty, large single-parent families, and social isolation” (11). This leaves teenagers trapped in an incredibly overwhelming and limiting lifestyle. Some of those same situations can apply to emotionally immature adults as well. These adults are usually not in ideal emotional, financial, or employment situations, and do not have adequate resources to care for a child.

The remaining proportion is of cases of rape or incest (6). The intense trauma, the health risks, the emotional and physical effects of PTSD, and numerous other painful factors all contribute to a woman’s decision to have an abortion.

Seventy-four percent of women who have an abortion stated that their rational fit into two or more of the defined categories, meaning that most women have multiple reasons for choosing to have an abortion (6). This must also be taken into consideration and considered heavily along with the physical, emotional, and psychological trauma that women stated as reasons they chose to have an abortion. The reasons and rationale behind women’s choice to have an abortion – and the ill effects that would come into effect if they did not make that difficult choice are all incredibly notable and relevant. Without accessible and affordable abortion, these unsafe environments and dangerous conditions could come to fruition. It must also be noted that there is no such thing as illegal abortion, only unsafe abortion. Legality does not matter – women will always seek access to abortion, especially in times of crisis. Studies from the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization have proven that the number of abortions worldwide does not change when abortion becomes illegal, rather it only increases health risks to those seeking abortions.

Globally, thirteen percent of women’s deaths due to pregnancy and childbirth are caused by clandestinely performed abortions. Twenty million “unsafe” abortions occur annually, causing an average of 67,000 women to die from the dangerous methods and complications. An additional eight million women suffer from long-term health effects such as secondary infertility, prolonged weakness, anemia, and chronic inflammation. Three million of these women will never be treated. The five million women who are hospitalized for their injuries cost the government’s a yearly 460 million dollars (12). The Heartbeat will inflame this issue, metaphorically costing hundreds of thousands of woman’s families and loved ones, as well as draining the literal financial resources of the government.

There is a clear emotional tie that many women have to this issue, including myself. I remember learning that my great-grandmother was left motherless at age three because her mother accidentally killed herself during a self-administered abortion. She had already delivered seven children while living in immense poverty. I often think about how her pain spilled into the next generation, how the lack of healthcare impacted the women in my family. I have also lived in rural and impoverished areas most of my life and have grown up surrounded by stories about women who suffered from a lack of adequate resources for simple healthcare. These stories were often intrinsically tied to stories of domestic violence, abuse, neglect – stories that carried the stigma of shame. There were stories of alcoholic and war-shaken fathers.

Stories of violent mentally-ill mothers. Stories of sexually abusive boyfriends. These stories surrounded me in my childhood and continue to surround me today – sometimes I am completely drowned in them, fully submerged in this deep darkness and pain. It’s horrifying to see similar stories to that of my great-great-grandmother in peers my age, in women this year, here and now. This pain can not continue, not in women I love, not in the country that I love, and not within me. Abortion is a human right, abortion is a civil right, and it is our duty as patriots and as citizens of the United States to protect that intrinsic right and to defend our people from undue oppression.

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Abortion is a Human and Civil Right. (2021, Jan 26). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/abortion-is-a-human-and-civil-right-essay

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