If you aren’t mad about this, you aren’t paying attention.
This has been a devasting week for Women’s Rights.
In the past 7 days, the state of Alabama effectively set women back decades in its attempt to overturn the 1973 decriminalization of abortion in the US.
I am livid, and you should be too.
So far this year, four US states have enacted bills that restrict the reproductive rights of women by criminalizing abortion. Last week we thought it was bad, with the state of Georgia pushing for the death penalty as a consequence of terminating a pregnancy, but things have escalated dramatically.
The state of Alabama has introduced the harshest bill of all, punishing abortion with anywhere between 10 and 99 years imprisonment (depending on involvement) with no exception for cases of rape or incest.
This is a terrifying step backwards for women but in this time of uncertainty it’s more important than ever to keep fighting. We can’t afford to be complicit as our rights are being stripped away. If you aren’t a citizen of the US, it’s easy to disconnect, and think that this won’t happen to you, but I’m guessing women in Alabama thought the same thing.
If you were on the fence about a woman’s right to autonomy over her body, I’ve narrowed it down to 17 reasons why abortion should be a fundamental human right.
1. Criminalizing abortion doesn’t stop abortions, it just makes them dangerous
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 22 million unsafe abortions are performed each year. Most of these occur in developing countries but as access decreases in countries like Ireland and the US, women are being forced to take extreme measures to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.
Taking away access doesn’t take away the demand for abortion.
2. Death from an unsafe abortion is COMPLETELY preventable
Unsafe abortion is ‘a procedure for terminated an unintended pregnancy carried out either by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards or both’. Unsafe and ‘backyard’ abortions contribute 47 000 pregnancy-related deaths each year, with this number expected to rise as access to safe procedures is diminished.
3. Women have a right to autonomy of their bodies
The UN provides that access to health is a fundamental human right. Under the UN, there is a treaty called the Women’s Convention that effectively deems reproductive health to fall within this category of health. The criminalization of abortion contravenes the right to autonomy and provides a further barrier to health access. And that just ‘aint right.
4. It’s inhumane to force a woman to carry the child of her rapist
We already knew the stats for sexual assault was bad, with one in five women predicted to be raped in her lifetime. In the US alone it is estimated that 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year, with the number likely to be higher due to under-reporting. If you have even a shred of compassion, the psychological implications of this are obvious and harmful to the mother and the baby she is forced to carry to term.
5. 1 in 4 women will need an abortion in their lifetime.
Choosing to terminate a pregnancy can be the result of any number of factors, ranging from rape or incest to being too young or too poor to raise a baby. It doesn’t matter what the reason in, what matters is that women should have the right to choose what is best for them. HER body, HER decision.
6. The ‘Pro-Life’ movement is built on hypocrisy
Pro-life advocates in the US are calling for abortion to be punishable by the death penalty, considering the termination of a pregnancy at any stage homicide. This CLEARLY doesn’t add up. I’m sorry but if you are advocating for the protection of life you cannot enact the punishment of death.
You aren’t pro-life, you’re anti-women.
7. Criminalizing abortion is discrimination
Passing a law that prohibits a medical procedure required only by women is by definition discriminatory. The Committee on the Elimation of Discrimination Against Women state that “it is discriminatory for a State party to refuse to legally provide for the performance of certain reproductive health services for women”
8. Pregnancy can be dangerous
Whilst a majority of pregnancies go according to the plan, 8-10% carry a high risk of complications that can be fatal to the mother. Denying abortion to a woman in that situation is all but a death sentence.
9. A foetus is not a baby
There is a difference between a foetus and a baby. Traditionally, a foetus is not a legal person until it is born alive. If you prioritise a foetus over the safety and wellness of a real woman, you are destroying her right to autonomy and risking her life. Life is precious, so lets finally protect the lives of women.
10. Countries with legal abortion generally have lower rates of abortion
Data collected by the World Health Organisation has found that the best way to reduce the rate of abortion is to provide safe and legal procedures to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Better access to reproductive health facilities and sex education are paramount in decreasing the need for abortion. The science speaks for itself.
11. If you don’t have a uterus, you don’t get an opinion
The 25 people who voted for the criminalization of abortion in Alabama are white men. Frankly, if you don’t have a uterus I am not interested in your opinion with what I should do with mine. It’s 2019 and it’s about time men stopped deciding what women can do with our bodies.
12. The foster system is f*cked
Let’s look at some stats. Generally, 1.06 million abortions are performed and 14 000 children are adopted annually in the US. Anyone who says adoption is a valid alternative to abortion is delusional (and bad at maths.)
13. Criminalization of abortion perpetuates rape culture
To be clear, we live in a world where a woman who aborts a pregnancy that occurs as a result of rape will serve more time in prison than the man who rapes her. Don’t you dare tell me rape culture doesn’t exist when the legal system perpetuates it.
14. Legal abortion reduces the crime rate
In 2001 a Harvard University study concluded that ‘legalized abortion appears to account for as much as 50 percent of the recent drop in crime’. The social and economic benefit of the lower crime rate was found to sit at $30 billion. Abortion is not a crime but aids in reducing it. It seems the only criminals here are the men governing women’s bodies with no right to make these decisions.
15. Politicians have no right to make personal medical decisions
Politicians would never presume to force vasectomies on males for the purpose of birth control. Unless men are legally obliged to contribute to the emotional and financial cost of raising a child, they have no right to make decisions regarding pregnancy.
16. Denying access to reproductive health care is unconstitutional
The 1973 case of Roe v Wade affirmed access to safe and legal abortion, entrenching it as a constitutional right. 73% of American’s don’t want the decision overturned as to do so is to strip women of their constitutional right to reproductive health care.
17. Criminalizing abortion on religious grounds contravenes your right to freedom of religion
When signing the Alabama abortion ban into law, Republican Kay Ivey stated that the legislation ‘stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.‘ Article 18 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights holds that “everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion’. If you don’t agree with abortion for religious reasons, don’t have one. Just stop using your theology to risk the lives of women.
Image via shutterstock.com.
Comment: Where do you stand on abortion?