You love someone who has had an abortion. Or you will at some point, because one in four women will have an abortion in her lifetime.
You may think of abortion as a hot-button topic — something you don’t bring up at Thanksgiving or something you debated during that one week in high school English. You might even think of abortion as something that does not affect you, especially if you are not a woman with the ability to carry a child. For most women, though, abortion is health care.
Though some conservatives would like you to believe women procure abortions as frequently or easily as getting mani-pedis and brunch, a woman’s decision to end a pregnancy is deeply personal and difficult. The newest falsehood Republicans want you to believe is Democrats advocate for infanticide. This is a lie.
Many Republicans deploy these unethical tactics to strike fear and anger in their supporters to maintain political power. Others are willfully ignorant about the intricacies of women’s health, mostly because they are men who have been so shielded by their own privilege that they have never had to consider the implications of pregnancy or even birth control.
An outcry from abortion opponents has erupted in response to propositions to reduce abortion restrictions in both New York and Virginia. Despite some lawmakers misspeaking, neither of these changes would allow infanticide or anything close. Infanticide is illegal in both states.
In New York, the most substantial change the Reproductive Health Act would implement is making abortion a public health issue by removing it from the criminal code. Additionally, the RHA would expand provisions allowing some abortions after 24 weeks only in cases with an “absence of fetal viability” or when the abortion is “necessary to protect a patient's life or health …”
Before the bill was changed, New York resident Erika Christensen found out the baby she was carrying was “nonviable,” meaning the baby was unable to survive outside of the womb. Christensen was 31 weeks pregnant at the time, but abortions are banned after 24 weeks in New York. Despite her and her husband desperately wanting a child, she quickly decided to terminate her pregnancy to limit the child’s suffering. Faced with an extremely difficult personal decision, Christensen ultimately chose what she believed was the most humane option.
Because she could not get an abortion in New York, she flew to Colorado and was forced to spend over $10,000 on the trip and procedure. She, along with help from her doctors, traveled to Colorado because abortion is regulated like any other medical procedure, whereas it is criminally sanctioned in New York.
It is for the same reason Christensen traveled to Colorado that the RHA is necessary in New York and beyond: Abortion should not be criminalized. It can and should be regulated, but women whose doctors have given them vital information about their own well-being or the well-being of their child should be allowed to make decisions, along with their doctor, about their own bodies.
In Alabama, a man is suing the clinic and makers of a pill his ex-girlfriend used to terminate her pregnancy in a wrongful death suit. Ryan Magers was 19 years old when his 16-year-old then-girlfriend became pregnant. His ex-girlfriend had the expressed approval of both of her parents to get an abortion and broke up with him following the incident. Now, two years later, he is attempting to exert extreme control because he could not force her to keep the pregnancy at the time by dragging her through a lawsuit. This lawsuit, especially in such a conservative state, could threaten women’s reproductive rights across this country.
Abortion is health care. It is not a religious issue or even an issue of morality. There can absolutely be reasonable disagreements about abortion, but when they resort to screams of infanticide or a toxic need for control, there is nothing reasonable about that at all.
In New York, 25 to 27 percent of pregnancies end in abortion. Nationally, about 24 percent of pregnancies end in abortion, despite recent declines in the procedure. This means many mothers have also had abortions, because getting an abortion does not make you a bad mom, nor does it mean you do not want children.
When roughly a quarter of women will have an abortion in her lifetime, this means there are women around you — at work, in your family, in your friend group, in your book club or on your social media feed — right now who have had an abortion. It is easy to vilify these women and those whom you know nothing about when they make decisions that you do not understand because you do not have the complete information. But remember — they are just people making what they believe is the best decision they can, given the circumstances, just like anyone else given distressing medical information might.
Marisa Wright can be reached at email@example.com.