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May 30, 2019

Slipback of the Century: A Candid Perspective on Recent Anti-Abortion Legislation

Our social media feeds have been saturated the past few weeks with commentary about the restrictive anti-abortion laws that have been passed in various states and we want to take the time to share our viewpoint.

As women, our preference is always to prevent undesired pregnancies and it is never our first choice to treat an unwanted pregnancy by subjecting ourselves to a medical or surgical abortion. However, history tells us that when there is less access to affordable contraception, the number of accidental pregnancies and abortions will increase. Politicians are taking our country back to the era before widespread reliable contraception methods and safe abortions were available. Inevitably, this will force women to have more children than they can financially and emotionally support, cause women to leave the workplace and increase the reliance on social services. No matter what your political affiliation, we all need to band together and fight for our basic reproductive rights.

Why are these new state laws so outrageous?

The state of Alabama passed a law last week that effectively bans medical or surgical abortions at any stage of development for any reason other than if a women’s health is at “serious risk.” There is no exception for rape, incest, nor consideration if the fetus has a lethal condition. Doctors performing abortions can be charged with a felony and face up to 99 years in prison.

This legislation places extreme restrictions on women’s reproductive rights. Rights that were compromised in Alabama even prior to this legislation. In 2014, there were only five clinics in the entire state that provided abortions, with only one open on the weekends. There was a mandatory 48-hour counseling and waiting period and minors already needed consent from their parents.

It is extreme to criminalize a procedure performed by a licensed physician. We stand with the American College of Obstetricians and Surgeons and wholeheartedly agree that physicians must be able to practice medicine that is informed by their education, expertise and evidence without threat of criminal punishment.

“Six weeks pregnant”

True or False? If a fetus is 6 weeks gestational age, a woman has been pregnant for 6 weeks.

False, healthcare providers measure weeks of pregnancy (or gestational age) from the first day of your last period. Ovulation typically occurs in the 2 weeks following the beginning of menstruation, but guess what? If your cycle is irregular then it can occur much later. Therefore, a woman might have not even missed her period and truly not know she is pregnant before she can no longer obtain a legal abortion. Ridiculous, right? Furthermore, a woman may not be able to get an appointment, take off of work/school and get to an abortion provider before 6 weeks gestational age.

While the Alabama legislation bans abortions even before 6 weeks, other states’“heart-beat” bills (more on that misnomer later…) effectively do the same thing. They do not give enough time from recognition of pregnancy to scheduling a doctor’s appointment. Mandatory waiting periods, decreased numbers of abortion providers and facilities cause further delays in obtaining an abortion.

Threats to Roe v. Wade

So with that we turn back to politicians. We can see through you and your political ploy to challenge the Supreme Court statute of Roe v. Wade. We find it particularly heartbreaking when women themselves are responsible for signing these laws into effect — we see you Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and we won’t forget how you have turned your back on the women of your state and this country.

As Americans we are fed up with politicians jeopardizing our reproductive health rights and we demand change. So, politicians, please ask yourself what do you want to support — contraception to prevent pregnancy, abortions to eliminate unwanted pregnancy or social welfare systems to support undesired children? How about all three?

And women, remember what your legislators have done. Use your voice to vote them out of office!

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Sources:

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/14/us/abortion-law-alabama.html?module=inline
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/us/abortion-laws-states.html