January 22, 2013 - 1:05pm
BY EMMA MANIERE
“As I close the freezer door, I imagine a world where this won’t be necessary, and then return to the world where it is.” Ever since I read those words from Sally Tisdale’s We Do Abortions Here, I’ve been pro-choice. Soon thereafter, I had a compelling conversation with a pro-life friend who proceeded to give me a pin depicting the feet of a 10-week old fetus. I still have that pin.
Sometimes, the rhetoric of anti-choice protesters angers me. When I see an Arbor Vitae flyer on campus, I become incensed. As I read stories of Planned Parenthood employees who’ve dealt with bomb threats or a provider who drives to work in disguise or wears a bulletproof vest I find myself near tears. After a woman told me the sound of the suction device haunts her over 30 years after her abortion, I wondered why I care so much about being pro-choice.
There are moments I cringe and feel uncomfortable — there’s no use denying that. But just because I cringe doesn’t mean abortion is wrong. In fact, those are the moments that define my views: the moments I’m not pro-choice because of a reflex, but because I stop, think and evaluate my position.
While arguments pertaining to women’s rights that draw upon feminism are crucial to my own beliefs, I recognize they don’t resonate with everyone. For now I‘ll stress the severity of what’s at stake, and a point that never fails to remind me why I’m pro-choice — life.
Abortion must remain safe and legal because abortion will never go away regardless of law. Statistics regarding the number of illegal abortions in the United State are difficult to verify, but estimates range from 200,000 to 1.2 million per year. In 1930, illegal abortion was the official cause of death for one-fifth of maternal deaths that year. 30 years later, illegal abortion caused 17 percent of all deaths pertaining to pregnancy and childbirth. As remains the case today, low-income and minority women were disproportionately affected. Outlawing abortion doesn’t magically make it go away; the desperation and difficulties women face don’t evaporate. Outlawing abortion forces women to resort to unnecessary risks in order to obtain a medical procedure they deem best for themselves.
Today, 88 percent of women who obtain an abortion do so during their first trimester. Of those, less than 0.5 percent experience complications that require a surgical procedure or hospitalization. Abortion is among the safest medical procedures provided in this country. Accordingly, maternal death rates from abortion have plummeted since legalization.
Some argue that abortion takes lives, but I know that abortion saves lives, too. Yet I suppose I kept that pin for a reason. It’s not a reminder of my adversaries, nor is it a capsule of my doubts. Rather it’s a symbol of the seriousness of the subject at hand, that the complexities and moral ambiguities must be navigated thoughtfully and respectfully, and that only with these intricacies in mind can the pro-choice movement preserve what remains of Roe v. Wade.