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A Step In The Wrong Direction - Taking Away A Women's Rights To Choose

A new law passed in the USA now makes abortions illegal, criminalising a women's rights to her own body.

CW: This article discusses topics of abortions and sexual abuse which could be distressing to some readers.

Overturn of Roe v Wade

In 1973 the US Supreme Court ruled in Roe v Wade to legalise abortions up until the first 3 months of pregnancy. This June the Supreme Court of the United States overturned this law ending the previously in place protection rights, closing the legal window for abortions altogether and taking away a woman's right to an abortion. Whilst this has not automatically taken effect in every state, more than half of the country has already chosen to ban the practice, with many more planning to follow on with even tougher restrictions.

A human right

Bodily autonomy means that decisions about your own body are yours to make alone. According to the International human rights law;

"Everyone has a right to life, a right to health, and a right to be free from violence, discrimination, and torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment."

This means that providing legal, safe and accessible access to an abortion is a fundamental human right. Forcing somebody to continue with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy unwillingly violates their fundamental human rights.

Criminalising abortions won't stop them, but just make them unsafe

Statistics show that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in abortion globally every year and that this figure does not greatly differ from where abortions are legalised, but instead just the way they are carried out. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate that 25 million unsafe abortions are undergone each year. And according to WHO is the third biggest cause of death during pregnancy. Whilst the new law states that all states must allow abortion to same the life of the mother, many women have reported being turned away even after receiving news of a life-threatening pregnancy with little chance of survival for both mother and baby.

In many situations, those found to have had illegal unsafe abortions also chance federal punishment which can include imprisonment. These girls and women then undergo malicious and humiliating discrimination. These harrowing possibilities then frighten women from seeking necessary post-abortion treatment due to the fears of prosecution.

Denying abortions after sexual abuse

An even bigger debate comes into play when discussing abortions in the circumstances of rape, incest, and underage pregnancies. Whilst a handful of states do allow abortions to take place following a documented case of rape, most states do not and most rape cases are undocumented due to fear or embarrassment and many end up being ruled against.

I remember reading an article recently which can be read here which discussed the story of a 10-year-old little girl who was raped, leaving her pregnant. She then had to travel to a nearby state to receive an abortion which then further resulted in the performing doctor being convicted. All I could think was 'imagine how that little girl must be feeling!!'

So what's next?

Whilst it is unclear exactly how these laws will progress and what each state will decide to put in place many are starting protests and riots in the hopes of overturning this law to give women the reproductive rights that they deserve. Whilst the change that is needed can't be made by us, coming together to demand equality and bodily autonomy is what you can do to help push this necessary cause.


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