Abortion rights are being hotly debated after as many as seven states proposed or passed bills in the last two months that make access to abortion clinics more difficult for women. Limiting this access will put women’s health and futures at risk and give those who are economically disadvantaged fewer options.
Legislators in South Dakota and Nebraska have proposed controversial bills where justifiable homicide would be extended to include protection of an unborn fetus. Many argue if these bills are passed, it would essentially be making the execution of abortion doctors legal.
If someone views abortion as murder, then it could make sense that the abortion doctor is the murderer. However, this view does not match the legal status of abortion in our country.
If these bills are passed, doctors who provide abortions will re-locate to safer states, forcing women in South Dakota and Nebraska to travel out-of-state for a legal procedure. Many abortion doctors have left Wichita, Kansas since the 2009 murder of abortion doctor George Tiller.
In South Dakota, the bill has been shelved for now, but Planned Parenthood said they will sue the state for passing another controversial bill this past week that requires women seeking an abortion to have mandatory counseling at a crisis pregnancy center and wait 72 hours before having the procedure.
Abortion is a big deal and should be given great consideration before it is done. Guidance from someone who has gone through the experience or knows how it could potentially affect a woman physically and emotionally should also be taken into consideration.
However, a 2006 study sponsored by California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman found that 20 out of 23 federally-funded crisis pregnancy centers gave false or misleading information about abortion risks. These facilities are often run by anti-abortion Christian groups and are not regulated.
Counseling should be encouraged but someone with a biased point of view and hoping to mold an emotional and pregnant woman’s mind should not be the one giving it. And while a woman should give 72 hours to be sure she is making the right decision, women often have to request time off from work and drive long hours to see an abortion doctor. Now that women in South Dakota must go to a crisis pregnancy center, they are being forced to discuss personal issues with a potentially biased person and request up to a week off from work to have a one-day procedure performed.
Another example of threats to abortion rights is happening in Ohio where the Heartbeat Bill is getting attention for its strict regulations on when abortions can be performed.
This bill would ban abortions done after there is a detectable heartbeat, which can be as early as 18 days. The heartbeat is a milestone in the development of a fetus and one of the first developments that could make it seem truly human to many people.
The 18-day-old fetus is also the size of a pencil tip and looks similar to a worm at this time. It cannot feel pain until around the 28th week of gestation, after necessary nerve pathways have formed, according to Mark Rosen, an obstetrical anesthesiologist at the University of California, San Francisco. Also, many women do not know they are pregnant within 18 days of conception and they would not have the opportunity to get the procedure in the allotted time frame.
Presently, there is no similar legislation threatening the legality of abortion and limiting its access pending in California however, we should consider what we would do if these kinds of bills were introduced.