By: Courtney Kratz, Opinions Editor
I could just as easily begin this article with graphic images of illegal abortions, teen mom suicides, and deadly pregnancies, but rather than react to the New York and Virginia legislation, I’d like to respond — and inform.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed New York’s Reproductive Health Act (RHA) on Jan. 22, and while Virginia’s bill is similar in design, it has been tabled and is unlikely to pass. RHA, however, now permits abortions when a medical professional professes “reasonable and…professional judgement based on the facts of the patient’s case,” “the patient is within 24 weeks,” “there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.” The determination must be made by a healthcare professional “licensed, certified, or authorized” by state law and “acting within his or her lawful scope of practice.”
I won’t hide my distaste for the article above’s rhetoric. Using slavery as a counter is exploitative. Slavery was never necessary to preserve equality, and I will not entertain that argument any further.
Legislation like RHA is necessary for women’s political, social and, economic equality with men. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, half of the six million pregnancies in the U.S. each year are unintended, and about one-third of women get pregnant before the age of 20twenty. They must ask themselves: Can I take off work or school to give birth? Is my physical health such that I can carry a child? What about my mental health? Do I have mental health care? Can I handle the social ostracization? If I struggle with addiction, do I have access to addiction services? Do I have access to healthcare? Can I pay for the medical expense of giving birth? Will someone be available to adopt my child?
The father asks none of these questions and is held to no legal obligation. The U.S. has the worst maternal mortality rate in the developed world, and according to the Childbirth Connection, hospitals charge an average of $32,093 for uncomplicated vaginal birth and newborn care, and $51,125 for a standard caesarean section (insurance, if available, is hardly sufficient to offset such costs). The article above was written by someone who has never considered these challenges, experienced pregnancy or, the threat of pregnancy or poverty.
I once watched a woman look this writer dead in the eye and tell him she would kill herself if she was pregnant and could notn’t get an abortion. Clearly, her life matters less to him than the cells inside her. The “demagogues and sophists” he condemns are simply those who understand that pregnancy has the potential to threaten her health and well-being. Furthermore, we should not readily ruin women’s lives because men have an inflated sense of self-importance and believe their sperm creates life the minute they ejaculate into the body of a woman.
Women must have the option to end the pregnancy in a way that is legal, safe, and regulated. RHA simply protects these rights and regulations. The article above is, at best, a dispassionate and reactionary exemplar of abortion fear-mongering. The writer’s time and energy would be better spent advocating for those “safety nets” he has clearly not considered thoroughly.