On Wednesday, officials voted to put an end to most abortions in South Dakota. It hasn't been passed yet, but if this bill goes through, it could mean the first successful challenge to Roe v. Wade in the USA. The case will go to the Supreme Court, who then has the choice of hearing the case or not. Some say it is unlikely the court will even hear the case, which will mean the bill will be effective only in South Dakota. However, that means women in South Dakota won't be able to ahve access to safe and legal abortions! This is bad news!I just don't understand how women, who are actual human beings and citizens, get less concern than fetuses, who are essentially parasites and cannot survive outside of the woman's body. Fetuses are not citizens – you have to be born to be a citizen! How can it be that women are not as well-protected and respected as "people" who don't officially exist yet?
The state of SD wants to control women's bodies. By controlling a woman's body, you control a woman, for all intents and purposes. Now, only those women who can afford to leave the state will be able to access abortion. Guess what that means? More poor mothers. More welfare. More demand for state-funded daycare. More wards of the state. More children growing up in poverty. More mothers at their wits' end. More legal battles over child support from absent fathers. More men paying child support for children they didn't want or plan for. More children who are unwanted. More children born with medical problems, like fetal alcohol syndrome, low birth weights due to cigarette smoking, crack- and heroin-addicted babies, HIV+, Hep C+, etc. More botched "back-alley" abortions, complications of which are paid by the state Medicaid program. All of this amounts to, over time, increased taxes. It is obvious to anyone who opens their eyes and looks around: poverty breeds poverty. How is this a better scenario than abortion? Is this the kind of control of women's bodies SD is looking for – at the expense of other social programs?
Reproductive freedom is a major issue for women. Yes, there are lots of options available – to those who can afford them – to avoid pregnancy. Yes, there is always abstainence. Yes, there is always adoption. But these things don't always work. Abstainence is a joke in this world – to expect women, teenaged women, grown women, married women, to abstain from sex is ridiculous. It just is. All sorts of different women have abortions. Can we really expect women from all walks of life to avoid sex in order to avoid pregnancy? Completely unrealistic. Birth control options don't always work. Women get pregnant while on birth control all the time. Besides, these options are highly gendered – there is only one option for birth control available to men to protect against pregnancy, and most guys hate using it. Birth control isn't 100% reliable – so even if all precautions are taken, pregnancy can still occur. And birth control isn't cheap – thank god for programs like Planned Parenthood that give out free birth control and condoms. The option of adoption isn't always feasible. It is difficult emotionally for a woman to give away a baby that she carried in her body for 9 months, went through the pain of labour to give birth to, and has held and nurtured. Besides that, adoption doesn't work for women who simply don't wish to go through pregnancy and childbirth. Some women incur health problems while pregnant, and sometimes those health problems aren't cured by childbirth, but stay on as part of the woman's body for the rest of their lives. Yes, the legislation in SD allows for abortion in the case of a threat to the mother's health, and in case of rape. But this is entirely insufficient for a woman who does not wish to be pregnant! Besides, sometimes health complications arise late in the pregnancy, and late-term abortions are not always safe for a woman's long-term health.
So, call abortion a form of birth control if you like. Other forms of birth control don't prevent pregnancy, but rather cause a fertilized egg not to attach to the uterine wall, such as IUDs and the Morning After Pill (which is also widely held to be controversial and pro-life groups try to prevent access to this as well). I don't mind if abortion is used as a form of birth control. It's a pretty expensive way to prevent pregnancy, and it carries a higher degree of health risks for the woman, but if it is the last chance a woman has to avoid pregnancy and parenthood, so be it. Women MUST have the option of abortion, and it MUST be safe and legal. I know that I live in Canada, and what happens in SD doesn't have much bearing on my life here day to day, but when women's rights are threatened, we all need to take a stand. If you need further convincing of the social reasons why abortion must be available, please check out this post I found on Blog for Choice day this year. The author states her case logically and eloquently.