Pro-choice protest organizers speaking to a large crowd across from Kelowna City Hall July 4, 2022 (Brittany Webster - Capital News)

U.S. abortion bans set dangerous precedent for the world

The overturning of Roe v. Wade is a step back in reproductive rights

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade, setting the country back decades in the matter of women’s reproductive rights.

Roe v. Wade upheld the constitutional right to abortion. Now states can decide whether abortion is legal. In many states, abortion rights were revoked immediately.

Abortion laws vary by state. In some, such as Alabama, it is outright illegal to have an abortion at any stage of pregnancy unless the mother’s health is in danger, including in cases of rape or incest. In others, such as Oregon, abortion is legal.

America is a world power. It’s people have prided themselves on independence and individualism.

A founding principle of the nation is “freedom.” Now many American women no longer have freedom over their own bodies.

It sets a harmful precedent to the world.

With this happening in one of the “freest” countries, imagine what life is like for women in developing nations.

Pregnancy takes a toll on the body. Risks include high blood pressure, diabetes, a variety of infections, morning sickness, placenta previa, anemia, and birth risks. Abortion bans often mean forced pregnancy.

Despite a claim to uphold the separation of church and state, religion in this regard cannot be overlooked. Six of the nine justices on the Supreme Court are Catholic and may subscribe to that institution’s doctrine that life begins at conception.

Pro-choice does not equal pro-abortion. One can be pro-choice and never have an abortion. Being pro-choice means supporting each individual’s right to choose what happens to her body, and supporting laws that uphold this right.

Abortion is fairly common. According to Amnesty International, every year one in four pregnancies ends in abortion, worldwide. There are many reasons why a woman may choose to end a pregnancy, plenty of which are medical. For example, infection in the uterus, placental abruption, and preeclampsia all require abortion for the sake of a mother’s life.

The idea that abortions are inherently unsafe is a flawed, misinformed rhetoric. A legal abortion performed by a medical professional is a very safe procedure. Abortions become unsafe in regions where abortions are illegal, and women are forced to seek back alley options. Women will continue to need and have abortions, whether they are legal or not.

The World Health Organization estimates 25 million unsafe abortions happen per year. Unsafe abortions are the third leading cause of maternal deaths.

Medical concerns are not the only reason to seek an abortion. Many seek abortions for financial, educational, and emotional reasons such as a lack of resources, responsibilities such as school or work, or simply an unreadiness for parenting.

Whatever the reason, every woman should have the right to abortion. That’s the whole point. It’s her choice.

In discussions of abortion rights, it’s important to remember who these decisions will affect most. Women of colour and low-income women will be hit the hardest by lack of abortion rights. Women of colour are more likely to have an abortion, and this comes down to a lack of contraceptive resources for this demographic. It’s also important to note that outside of America in countries with abortion restrictions, unintended pregnancy rates are higher, while in countries where abortion is legal, they are lower, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

We need to uphold women’s reproductive rights. It begins with education. In order to prevent unintended pregnancies, better sexual education is required. People of all genders should receive quality education about reproductive health, including contraception methods, STI prevention, and consent. On top of that, contraception should be made free and accessible to all.

Protecting abortion rights is not just important for women and their mothers, daughters, and sisters, but also important for men and boys, allowing them to protect the rights of their mothers, daughters, and sisters. Abortions are an essential service for people of all genders.