Heather Hartel also contributed to this article.
The decision between a woman and her body is an individual one, and while the decision to terminate a pregnancy is difficult, it is critical that this choice be protected for all women, contrary to what a column in last week’s issue of the Old Gold & Black proposed.
Abortion procedures can both protect women from immediate medical risks and ensure that they are able to have children in the future, and the decision to have one remains between individuals and their doctors.
Giving access to abortion recognizes the identities of all of those with uteruses and their personal right to make decisions about their bodies. Yes, men are responsible for half of conception, but they are not responsible for carrying children to term — their bodies do not undergo nine months of physical changes while they are charged with the responsibility of protecting the potential development of life. They do not live with the social pressures around being pregnant or with the decision of whether or not to raise a new human after birth.
Also, men may provide sperm, but because men can’t get pregnant, they are not exposed to the risks associated with pregnancy.
Being equipped with the reproductive organs that allow pregnancy does not guarantee that a pregnancy will be safe or viable. Without access to safe abortions, women who have high-risk pregnancies are forced to continue the pregnancy or seek illegal abortions at the expense of their own health and sometimes lives.
The mortality rate associated with childbirth is 10 times higher than the mortality rate associated with legal abortion care. Every year in the U.S., over 600 women die during pregnancy, over 1,000 women who have live births die from pregnancy-related complications and more than 50,000 women suffer from adverse physiological conditions that result from or are aggravated by pregnancy, according to the CDC.
Additionally, restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates, and barring access to abortion devalues the lives of women who would risk their lives seeking illicit abortions. In the U.S. prior to Roe v. Wade, 200,000 to 1.2 million women had illegal abortions each year, and as many as 5,000 American women died annually as a direct result of abortions performed in medically unsafe environments by individuals lacking medical training and skills.
The death rate from legal abortion, however, is just 0.006 percent according to the World Health Organization. In countries where abortion remains unsafe, it is a leading cause of maternal mortality and accounts for 13 percent of all deaths of women.
Being equipped with the reproductive organs that allow pregnancy does not guarantee the resources to raise a child.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, of the 12 million single parent families, more than 80 percent were headed by single mothers. If a single mother can work, she will statistically make less than single fathers. Her earning power is less than that of a man, approximately 78 cents for his dollar.
When the wage gap between men’s and women’s average salaries is adjusted for job title, industry, experience, location and several other factors, economists find that women still earn 6.6 percent less than their male counterparts.
For women of color, this disparity is even greater; African American women earn 26 percent less, while Hispanic and Latina women earn 44 percent less.
So yes, pregnancy and the ability to decide on an abortion is inherently a women’s issue.
Employing fear-evoking language when describing an abortion misrepresents the procedure and is a rhetorical tactic that allows pro-birth ideologists to portray women getting abortions as evil murderers. Many abortions are medical abortions, wherein the woman takes abortion pills. In surgical abortions, the kind typically described by those opposing the practice, vacuum aspiration is utilized after the dilation of the woman’s uterus. The brain and skull of a baby are not brutally sucked out of the mother, contrary to what the column stated.
While society dictates that rhetoric surrounding abortion procedures be emotional or shameful, an abortion is simply a medical procedure. Abortion, although demonized, is common, safe and normal.
Abortion is not the greatest evil of our time. Racism, xenophobia, sexism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, genocide and systemic oppressions and manifestations of explicit hatred are the greatest evils of our time.
Holding a woman’s personal decision to have a medical procedure within her own body akin to the horrors of slavery or of the Holocaust is ridiculous, inappropriate and fallacious.
To do so is to completely discredit those who suffered. A column that so explicitly and violently demonizes abortion is a direct attack on those who have undergone the procedure or would do so in the future.