Abortion has always been a hot topic and in America even more so. Present day America appears to be a proponent of equal rights for people of different race, religion or sex. However there seems to be a dark movement looming over women’s rights lately, hell bent on making abortions harder and more shameful to obtain…

All legislation mentioned by name from here on in was proposed in 2011, by Republicans.

A bill known as the H.R. 217: The Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which if passed, will see governmental funding withdrawn from any institution that offers abortion – even if the money they receive does not go towards abortion. Currently, any American’s tax paid dollars will not pay for abortions in accordance with the Hyde Amendment. This new proposed funding cut will see clinics like Planned Parenthood left struggling. Planned Parenthood is America’s “leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate”, they offer STI testing, contraception advice, cancer screening and pre natal care as well as advice on unplanned pregnancies (which does include abortion). The passing of this bill could see men, women and teens without birth control or proper sexual health care as many of them cannot afford it and thus rely on health centres provided by Planned Parenthood to help them.  Spokesmen from Planned Parenthood recently stated that the organisation could continue practice without its federal funding, however as a result it would have to close many of its healthcare centres and subsequently withdraw its support from many communities. Is it right that such centres are having funding taken away from them for providing women with abortions? Abortion is a safe way to end an unwanted pregnancy and abortion is legal in America and has been for decades. Bills like these are rumoured to be intended to ‘close the net’ on abortion, making them harder and harder to obtain with the end goal of abortion being outlawed altogether.

Another proposed bill is H.R. 358: The Protect Life Act has been dubbed the “Let Women Die” Act. It would allow a “healthcare entity” (i.e. a doctor, hospital or other) to deny a woman an abortion even if it was medically necessary to save the woman’s life. They would also have no obligation to refer or transport her to a healthcare provider who would. This is being seen as a step backwards in the fight for women’s rights. Religion and morals often clearly play an important role in an individual’s life but should these be allowed to interfere and therefore risk a woman’s life? I spoke to Carrie, a second year medical student who is a non-denomination Christian who said “Faith is a big part in my practice of medicine but it shouldn’t overrule it”. She explained that she would not authorise an abortion for a woman unless the lives of the mother or foetus were in danger, in her eyes both lives are equally as valuable and the vulnerability of both should be cared for. From a logical point of view this bill gives healthcare providers the opportunity to endanger the life of a pregnant woman and automatically thus endangers the life of the foetus. In a circular way, this act almost endangers the foetus more that it ‘protects’ it.

H.R. 3: No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act proposes that the ban on federal funding for abortion should be permanent and would stop federal funds being used for any healthcare insurance plan that includes abortion in its coverage. Some tax exemptions and benefits would fall under the umbrella of “federal funding”, making the legislation even more complex. The most controversial move of this ban was to try to redefine rape. Up until now most laws and bills that are against abortion in any way have the same exceptions: pregnancies as the result of rape, incest or pregnancies that require termination for medical reasons. H.R. 3 proposed only to exclude pregnancies as a result of “forcible rape” or in minors who have been the victim of incest or aforementioned medical reasons. The confusing language of “forcible rape” was not clarified and resulted in a backlash from the press and public; the question of where statutory rape and date rape fit into their definition is not transparent as their given explanation and official wording was so vague. The only obvious element was the fact that it was limiting – even more limiting than the existing abortion ‘exceptions’. After the resultant resistance from the press and public, the definition of “forcible” rape has been removed and they returned to the existing definition of rape. The insinuation that one type of rape was not as condemnable as another surely has done permanent damage to the public opinion of this bill.

There are many other bills relating to abortion that are in the process of being considered.  Namely,

H.R. 212 The Sanctity of Human Life Act – which aims to provide the definition that human life begins with fertilisation

S. 91 The Life at Conception Act – this act wants to define that a born and unborn human being each have equal protection under the Constitution.

Also the state of Texas is very close to passing a bill requiring all women to go for a sonogram 24 hours before having an abortion, apparently to make them aware of the impact of their decisions.  It has been seen as a move to shame women, to force them to face the foetus they have chosen to abort. Although for every woman that this bill helps to realise they want to be mothers, it could be permanently psychologically damaging to another.

If these people want to outlaw abortion, they should come out and propose it. Give it a fair fight, as opposed to smothering women with layer upon layer of legislation. They are perfectly entitled to be Pro Life, as other people are entitled to be Pro Choice. This recent campaign, as it were, begs the question: who is Pro Women?

 

Planned Parenthood is clearly not lacking in support, only funds.

Kate Kilgour