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99. This number refers to the regulatory number of years a murderer in Alabama receives in prison. Under recent legislation, it’s also the number of years a doctor performing an abortion could obtain. Many have questioned such harsh legislation, asking questions like the following: how can lawmakers equate abortion providers with rapists? Abortion has been a controversial and much-debated topic since Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign; it is the act of ending a human pregnancy during the first 28 weeks after conception. Anti-abortion activists have tried to ban this procedure for years through various methods; while some of their reasoning is understandable, it is highly argued. Abortion is viewed as a termination of life on one side and perceived as a human right on the other side. Recently, many states have been changing their laws to criminalize abortion, and pro-life activists are making headway into banning abortion with no exception to rape or incest. Roe vs Wade has been the governing law for the past 45 years, granting women safe and legal access to abortion; however, a number of states have recently passed legislation in an effort to overturn this Supreme Court decision. This could result in detrimental consequences to women around the country; essentially violating their rights, and risking their overall health physically by seeking unsafe methods, and mentally by placing financial and emotional strain on the mothers and their unwanted children.
The debate of whether abortion should or should not be legalized was first discussed in Roe Vs. Wade, a case that took place on January 22, 1973. It was a landmark decision of the US Supreme Court, which affirmed the legality of women’s abortion under the 14th amendment of the Constitution. Ever since 1973, this topic has been a major obstacle where women are concerned, and as a result of this predicament, anti-abortionists have been utilizing extreme methods to restrict women’s right to have abortions. The Alabama Legislative as of May 15th, 2019, is the most terminal decision against the Roe Vs. Wade; it enacts a near total ban on abortion and includes no exceptions for rape and incest. Over the past years, countries worldwide have started to change their laws to permit greater and easier access to abortion – but not the United States. Take Alabama’s most recent law on abortion. Such a law completely contradicts the proceedings of Roe vs. Wade and goes against the US Constitution, legally, morally, and fundamentally. Many would consider Alabama’s decision to be inhumane, one that pays no heed to the decision and ruling of the US Supreme Court, basically an encroachment on women’s rights. Hence, the United States should uphold the ruling of Roe Vs. Wade in order to help address and combat any recent anti-abortion trends and sentiments.
Reversing Roe vs. Wade will have many consequences, the first is the violation of the fundamental human right for women to decide what to do with their bodies. Every woman has a right to privacy and bodily autonomy, abortion is a personal choice: it should be done in a safe and controlled way. These imposed extreme far-right views on abortion cause an undue burden to women’s rights, restricting and adversely impacting their safety and legal care. This debate has deep ties to women’s equal rights and their autonomy as full-fledged citizens of the US. Anti-abortion enthusiasts have been chipping away at women’s rights for years by reducing access to abortion which is considered health care. According to Article 25, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care and necessary social services.’ (“Universal Declaration of Human Rights”) Nevertheless, the right to access safe and legal abortion should not be challenged, as this would infringe on women’s rights and would not be constitutional
Eliminating the access to abortion which is considered healthcare causes repercussions in women’s and children’s physical and mental health states. Criminalizing abortion and restricting it will cause people to seek and undergo clandestine, unsafe, and illegal abortions. It would result in unsafe abortion methods that could lead to serious physical health risks to women such as uterine perforation, hemorrhage, damage to internal organs, and death. As stated in Human Rights Watch with regards to women’s rights, “Approximately 13 percent of maternal deaths worldwide are attributable to unsafe abortion — between 68,000 and 78,000 deaths annually.” The mental health of women is seriously affected if women are forced to have unwanted babies. Parents who are obligated to have children when they are not ready, are not emotionally available for these children, creating unstable adults who feel out of place. Furthermore, children who are born into families that are not ready to receive them can put the family in financial strain and could lead them to live under poverty levels. Being financially unstable and unready for a child can lead the parents to develop stress and anxiety, and can further cause the parents to resent the child (Foster). An example of a woman in the Midwest who chose to have an abortion six months after her first child illustrates how not being mentally stable and financially ready to support another baby can be a very difficult situation to deal with (Foster). Finally, many of these unwanted children are sent into the foster care system, those kids in the US have higher risks of mental and physical health problems such as asthma, depression, and obesity. Banning abortion will cause an influx of children in the foster care system, according to ChildTrends.org, “The number of children in foster care has increased in recent years, climbing to 443,000 in 2017 from a recent historic low of 397,000 in 2012.” This being the case, if abortions were to be illegalized, families and women will be driven into worse situations with physical and mental health consequences and will further complicate their lives.
Despite continual evidence and court rulings that the right to an abortion should be upheld, many still dispute this. Many critics of Roe vs. Wade argue that the Supreme court ruling is unfounded and has no legal basis. Some believe that Roe. Vs. Wade was based on judicial activism, which therefore makes the case logically incoherent and constitutionally unprincipled. The American constitutional lawyer Laurence Tribe had thoughts on the legal case; he mentioned: ‘One of the most curious things about Roe is that, behind its own verbal smokescreen, the substantive judgment on which it rests is nowhere to be found.” Another common view of Pro-Lifers is the belief that abortion is inhumane because it causes pain to the fetus since the fetus has physicochemical stress responses within 18 weeks gestation. Nevertheless, this can be refuted by other medical statements proving that the fetus cannot feel pain so early on, and is only capable of feeling pain until the third trimester which begins at about 28 weeks of pregnancy. According to cdc.gov, ‘In 2015, almost two thirds (65.4%) of abortions were performed at ≤8 weeks’ gestation, and nearly all (91.1%) were performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation. Few abortions were performed between 14 and 20 weeks’ gestation (7.6%) or at ≥21 weeks’ gestation (1.3%). It is not up until around 30 weeks where the fetus is considered awake and alive. Since the fetus is incapable of feeling pain until about 30 weeks, most abortions are done before then, which proves that the babies do not feel pain when being aborted so early on. Therefore, if Roe Vs. Wade was based on “judicial activism” and stretched the law by not including medical statements or proof, some people believe it should most definitely be overturned. Although, in recent years there are medical statements and evidence which have been found to back up the initial decision behind Roe Vs. Wade.
For decades, Americans have been locked in a harsh debate on whether abortion should be legalized or not. Each side stubbornly insists that their point of view is valid, however, Roe Vs. Wade is still a shield which protects the rights of women and allows abortion to be considered healthcare and it still remains a fundamental privilege for women to receive. Roe still prevents anti-abortionists from chipping away at women’s rights, giving them the opportunity to dictate their own future. Additionally, overturning the Supreme Court decision will lead to many more mental, emotional and financial consequences to women and children. Anti-abortion enthusiasts have been unable to provide a full proof well fare program to support these unwanted and neglected children. This leads us to the final question we must ask ourselves, is the choice of not bringing a life into this world better than forcing an existence of neglect and despair?
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