OP-ED: Abortion

Erin Shannon, Campus Reporter

Abortion, one of the most divisive issues that exist in today’s political rhetoric, has been a topic of constant debate in the news and our society. It is a topic that sparks passion on either side of the argument: those who are pro-life fervently declare that abortion is murder, and those who advocate for a women’s choice fight to defend abortion rights.

Because abortion is such a controversial matter, there is no real black and white answer. However, I believe that a woman should have a say over what happens to her body. This is not to say there should be no restrictions–laws and regulations are important to maintain safe and reasonable procedures.

There are plenty of common misconceptions about abortion and the women who have them. Republican politicians speak about the “irresponsible” mothers who cruelly rip out their babies in late-term abortions. In their speeches, these pro-life advocates don’t bother to mention that 98.7% of abortions take place before the 21st week, or what would be considered late term. When late-term abortions do occur, they are not a random whim, but a difficult decision the practitioner has to complete for severe medical reasons. Nevertheless, politicians continue to paint late-term abortions as an unholy evil practiced by heartless women and doctors.

For example, President Trump criticized the Reproductive Health Act, a law passed in New York that updated the outdated abortion legislation. In his recent State of the Union speech, he said, “lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments from birth.”

In reality, the legislation set the precedent that abortion is not a crime by taking it out of the penal code, and it also established rare exceptions for late-term abortions. The clause did not extend the time frame, but said that licensed practitioners could perform an abortion if “the patient is within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.”

Similar to New York, Connecticut is a liberal state with tolerant abortion laws in comparison to the rest of the country. In many southern or Republican-dominated states, abortion laws are so restrictive that they push the boundaries of the “undue burden” clause in the Planned Parenthood vs. Casey Supreme Court decision.

These de facto bans often force women seeking an abortion to travel hundreds of miles to find the nearest abortion clinic. People in states like Mississippi have to travel long distances to find a clinic since there is only one in the whole state. After they travel out of their way, women are subjected to a mandatory ultrasound where the provider is required to offer the patient to look at the image. After this, there is a mandatory 24 hour waiting period before the abortion can take place.

Another popular proposed law is a “heartbeat bill.” This idea suggests that abortion should be illegal when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. For most women, this is about five to six weeks, yet a woman might not even know she is pregnant at this point so it would be too late to receive an abortion.

Politicians are readying for a post Roe vs. Wade world by passing legislation that states if the decision is overturned in the now-conservative Supreme Court, abortion will become illegal in that state automatically. Despite all of these efforts, the United States is a country that separates church and state, so politicians who use their own religious convictions to fuel their legislation have no legitimate right to control a woman’s body. No matter what happens, activists will continue to advocate for women and their freedom to choose.