In 1973 the Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade made major headlines. The ruling, 7-2, centered on the right to privacy under due process under the 14th Amendment, which would extend to a woman’s right to have an abortion. That happened 43 years ago, and here we find ourselves still fighting; pro-life and pro-choice supporters fighting for what should and shouldn’t be mandated by abortion clinics. Texas has been in the spotlight since June and Ohio has recently stepped out with its new plans. Some ask why? Why all these implications that make it so much harder? The only way to answer that question, however, is to look at what is actually going on.
In June of 2016 the Supreme Court looked at Texas House Bill 2, which stated that “the physician preforming the abortion or inducing an abortion must, on the service date, have active admitting privileges at a hospital, located not further than thirty miles from the abortion facility, and required the abortion facility to meet minimum standards for ambulatory surgical centers under Texas law.”
The 5-3 ruling of the Supreme Court took the final stance on the issue, declaring that the new provisions put an undue burden on women trying to seek out pre-viability abortions. While Texas claimed that the law was passed in response to the Kermit Gosnell scandal, in which the Pennsylvania man was convicted in 2013 of first-degree murder for killing babies that were born alive in his clinic.
If the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of Texas, the number of abortion clinics would drop from 40 to 7 in state.
Gov. Greg Abbott stated in an email to the Texas Tribune that that the new rules helped to reach, “Texas’ goal to protect innocent life, while ensuring the highest health and safety standards for women.”
It's been the biggest abortion case to reach the Supreme Court since 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in which the Roe v. Wade ruling reaffirmed the constitutional right to abortion.
But, the ruling didn’t seem to have an impression on Texas politicians. Just days after the ruling in June, Gov. Greg Abbott, trying to give a voice to the unborn, proposed new rules that would require aborted fetuses to be buried like any live person. The rules go into effect December 19, 2016 unless a new ruling from a Texas judge stands.
The rules were proposed and then revised, which required all aborted fetuses to be buried or cremated, to exclude the women who have miscarriages or abortions done at home. These new rules will add a $2,000 cost to the $350 - $900 procedure.
Now, that is just what is going on in Texas. And that’s a lot. Looking back to the first few days of December, and the Ohio Senate, we have a whole other issue at hand.
On December 6, 2016 the Ohio Senate added a heartbeat ban to House Bill 493, making abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat a fifth-degree felony except in cases where a physician judges the abortion necessary to prevent death of the pregnant woman or to prevent serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.
This is not the first time that Ohio has passed a bill like this. In March of 2015, they passed a similar heartbeat ban making the abortion of a heartbeat detected fetus a fourth-degree felony plus a fine. However, the bill was never enacted so to avoid conflict in the Republican-dominated senate.
Groups that do not support generalized abortion, but understand it in some cases, wonder what these new rules mean for women in cases of rape. Will a woman who is raped and traumatized be forced to carry that child to term? Will she have to bury the fetus should she choose abortion?
So, why are restrictions going up all over the country as we near the 100 year anniversary of the 19th Amendment? Some speculate that it’s because politicians are trying to retract women’s rights, which it surely looks like. Others will say they are simply trying to keep women safe and protect our most basic right, life. Whatever reason you want to give, there will no doubt now be consequences of the enacted laws.
There seems to be no solid evidence that the enacted changes in Texas will in any way be better for women's health. In fact, it could traumatize her even more. Put simply, the new rules seem only to be a way to shame and burden those in search of an abortion.
The women are not the only people being affected, we must also think of the child at hand. The children that will be born unwanted, either given up for adoption or put in a home that doesn’t want them, leading to abuse, depression, anxiety and hundreds of other things. Bringing an unwanted child into the world is more harmful to the child than it is to the mother. Because the consequences of childhood, emotional and physical abuse stick with them forever.
So, America, why are we attempting to make it nearly impossible for a woman to seek out an abortion? Her reasons are her own, and I question why abortions are as common as they are, but in no way will tell a woman she can’t do it. Why shame and burden them financially? Why force her to have a child she either can’t care for or doesn’t want? Childbirth shouldn’t be a punishment. It should be a gift.