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Abortion Clinics Should Remain Open and Accessible
The US Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade , which protected the constitutional right to abortion. The 1973 landmark decision led to a new era in the US, abortion clinics were established and deaths from abortions, particularly illegal or unsafe abortions, declined (Diamant and Mohamed, 2022). With this decision, the right to get an abortion was inscribed in the 14 th amendment to the US Constitution, guaranteeing the liberty to make decisions concerning childbearing without excessive interference from the government. The Roe v. Wade decision allowed women to undergo safe and legal abortions performed by qualified professionals. However, the attacks against the right to choose were relentless. Over the years there have been numerous attempts to make it difficult to access abortion, if not completely ban it in different states (Diamant and Mohamed, 2022). Now, with the recent decision of the US Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, abortion clinics are bound to close down, making abortion even less accessible and safe. Abortion clinics should be allowed to operate because they enable women not only access to safe abortions but also to exercise their basic human right to life and liberty.
Abortion clinics guarantee safe abortion, as well as psychological and medical care before and after the procedure, to scores of women who elect to undergo the operation. This is because in all cases, the decision to get an abortion is always a final decision, an act of surrender, a difficult but deliberate action. Whatever the reasons are - psychological, medical, emotional, and financial – they are all valid and protected by the Constitution.
The decision is aimed at significantly reducing the number of abortions and presumably, eradicating abortions altogether in the future; the aim itself is unattainable because it runs contrary to human tendency and behavior. The pro-life movement, fiercely supported by ultra-religious Christian fundamentalist groups , is miserably ignorant of the following: (1) that this act is a blatant assault on a fundamental right of every woman protected by the Constitution, (2) abortion will always be present in society due to its uncontrollable nature, and (3) that lobbying to ban abortion on grounds of religious belief is a direct violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution – the separation of church and state. It is common knowledge that abortion has been practiced long before it was legalized in 1973. However, following Roe v. Wade, two statistics radically changed—the number of illegal abortions performed went from 130,000 to 17,000 (“Abortion before and after legalization,” n.d.) and abortion mortality declined steadily since (Benson Gold, 2003). Due to abortion’s illegal status before 1973, abortion-related injuries and deaths were quite common, due to lack of access to medically-safe abortion and fear of imprisonment. Roe vs. Wade marked a significant drop in abortion-related injuries and deaths due to the presence of easily accessible medical facilities and clinics. The positive change persists until now.
Should Roe vs. Wade get completely overturned, women of the United States will be no different from the oppressed women of countries that criminalize abortion to this day. As soon as the law is overturned, the way pregnancies and health complications of pregnant individuals will drastically change. Not only shall maternal deaths become commonplace, the burden of proceeding with an unwanted pregnancy or even a wanted but dangerous pregnancy shall continually manifest on women – psychologically, emotionally, and physically (Lenharo, 2022). Women forced to carry their pregnancies to term have historically been reported to have higher chances of experiencing poverty than those who were given access to safe abortion (Lenharo, 2022). Apart from that, these women also struggle with education, as well as with mental and physical health (Lenharo, 2022). These struggles are true for women but are more prevalent among people of color and poorer communities (Lenharo, 2022). Lack of access to abortion would only exacerbate societal issues, which would likely mean a regression of the country to the past, not too different from the time when women were not allowed to vote or when slavery was legal. It is important to remember that access to abortion does not simply give women the option to continue or terminate a pregnancy but gives them the power to determine their life and live their lives as they please, as is their right.
Without the protection of Roe v. Wade, pregnant women lose their right to privacy and bodily autonomy. Furthermore, they must risk discrimination and persecution if they choose to assert these rights. If a pregnant individual discovers that they developed a condition that makes their pregnancy life-threatening, they will not have the option to make a decision for state governments will likely already make the decision for them, and often, at the expense of their life. They will likely not even have the option to visit an abortion clinic. If someone truly wants to terminate their pregnancy, they will have to shoulder an additional financial burden as they may need to travel to a different city or state on top of having to pay for the operation. All these will be added on top of the already heavy psychological toll of having an unwanted pregnancy.
Another pertinent reason why abortion clinics are important is that they make abortion accessible to all people, regardless of their social standing. Prior to Roe v. Wade, women who had the means could travel to a state that had abortion clinics, which, as mentioned, is a costly endeavor (Benson Gold, 2003). If they cannot afford it, they either risked their life with an unsafe abortion option or carried the pregnancy to term. In contrast, with the passing of Roe v. Wade, abortion clinics became more accessible as there were more clinics offering them and they were either affordable or covered by Medicaid or their insurance in certain cases like for victims of rape or those whose lives are in danger (Benson Gold, 2003). Artiga, Hill, Ranji, and Gomez (2022) report that with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, people of color will be the ones most likely to face barriers to abortion access and reproductive health treatments. Such barriers will add another layer of inequity to people who are already marginalized. Abortion clinics, however, allow women access to not only abortion but a wide range of services necessary to maintain their reproductive and overall health. Access to health services is not only a basic right but health also serves as a foundational factor that empowers people to exercise all their rights.
Pro-life activists insist on the morality issue of abortion , arguing that abortion is killing, which is partially true but majorly flawed. Pro-lifers are quick to assert that the fetus inside a mother is already a life and that it is the mother’s duty to protect that life. Again, this stance is clearly a misconception. While the heartbeat in fetuses begins to develop between the sixth and seventh week, a fetus has nothing in common with a live, feeling, breathing human baby (“Fetal Development,” n.d.). A study by Chinese researchers found that a fetus’s brain only begins to send signals at 24 weeks, meaning prior to that it does not feel anything yet (Chen, 2020). Concerning its correlation to the mother’s health, a fetus, irrespective of whether or not the pregnancy is planned, poses many risks to the health of the mother because it uses her entire system for incubation. The argument fails to note that if the mother cannot maintain her health due to the complications of pregnancy, both of them might suffer irreversible problems, hence the need for abortion.
If a fetus endangers the life of an otherwise healthy mother, abortion is also a must. If a fetus has developed complications that will eventually result in serious malformation or a lifelong condition after it is born, thus making the baby a burden to both himself and those that care for him, abortion is also the answer. The degree of need for abortion increases immensely if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. In such cases, abortion is the sole solution. It would be immoral to force a victim to carry and raise a child which is a constant reminder of the horror of past abuse. In cases of scarcely educated and/or impoverished mothers, and teens most of the time, abortion is viewed as a ticket to a better life and to stop the cycle of poverty. Evidence suggests that a great number of juvenile delinquents were unwanted pregnancies, forcibly raised by poorly educated mothers in poor environments and subsisted on welfare. Lack of education, poor upbringing, and poor environment are almost always guaranteed to breed criminal behavior.
The pro-life argument “a fetus is a life form” is solidly repelled by the validity of abortion’s status as a last resort in cases of an unwanted or risky pregnancy. This argument is built on logical fallacies . No healthy and planned pregnancy ever results in abortion. Abortion exists because contraception failed. Abortion is present because there is a need for it.
When not falsely proclaiming that abortion is murder , pro-lifers often point out to adoption as the alternative in less serious cases. It must be made known that not all women have the physical and psychological fortitude to go through an unwanted pregnancy. To employ a “some women can do it, why can’t she?” perspective is not only selfish but also callous.
Of prime importance is the need to explain ad nauseam to pro-lifers the basic premise of abortion and the purpose of abortion clinics: abortion is the final course of action decided by a mother to terminate an unwanted or seriously risky pregnancy; abortion clinics provide the mother care to safely carry out the procedure to save her life and well-being. Shutting down abortion clinics does not present any advantages. It strips women of independent decision-making and their very personal right to exercise ownership over their own bodies. Although pro-lifers appear to present valid points, it is evident that they are irrationally obsessed with the fetus to the point that they forget that the mother’s overall health matters more – an insensitive, one-sided, unlawful view. The decision whether or not to get an abortion depends on the mother and the mother only. Therefore, the venue that allows this, namely abortion clinics, should be allowed to remain open.
Abortion before and after legalization. (n.d.). Perspectives @50 - Guttmacher Institute Retrieved July 17, 2022, https://www.guttmacher.org/perspectives50/abortion-and-after-legalization
Artiga, S., Hill, L., Ranji, U., and Gomez. (2022, Jul 15). What are the implications of the overturning of Roe v. Wade for racial disparities?. KFF. https://www.kff.org/racial-equity-and-health-policy/issue-brief/what-are-the-implications-of-the-overturning-of-roe-v-wade-for-racial-disparities/
Benson Gold, R. (2003, March 1). “Lessons from before Roe: Will past be prologue?” Guttmacher Policy Review, 6(1), n.p., https://www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2003/03/lessons-roe-will-past-be-prologue
Chen, S. (2020, Aug 26). The moment when the fetus sends its first nerve signals. South China Morning Post . https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3098948/moment-when-fetus-sends-its-first-nerve-signals
Diamant, J. and Mohamed, B. (2022, June 24). What the data says about abortion in the U.S. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/06/24/what-the-data-says-about-abortion-in-the-u-s-2/
“Fetal development.” (n.d.). Medline Plus. Retrieved July 17, 2022. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002398.htm
Lenharo, M. (2022, June 24). After Roe v. Wade: US researchers warn of what’s to come. Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-01775-z