My school newspaper recently published an article on the debate surrounding Roe v. Wade. I wrote a letter to the editor in response. It was not published. This confused gem about “liberal politics” did make the cut, though. While I’ve discussed most of the things I bring up in the letter already on this blog, I think it’s a decent summary of a big problem in the abortion debate.
Anti-choice activists claim that they are trying to save lives by fighting to make abortion illegal. In fact, criminalizing abortion does not reduce abortions; it kills women. A study published last October in the Lancet found that abortion rates were not affected by its legality. Some may argue that criminalizing abortion is the right thing to do even if it does not actually affect abortion rates. This stance is inhumane. Almost 70,000 women a year die from unsafe illegal abortions. A year after Nicaragua placed a blanket ban on abortion Human Rights Watch published a report, “Over Their Dead Bodies,” documenting the results of the ban. This report found that women were dying because of the law. Many pregnant women with complications are afraid to seek treatment in case they are accused of attempting to induce an abortion and doctors are not giving abortions to women who will die without one. If anti-choice activists were truly “pro-life,” they would join hands with the pro-choice movement to promote policies that reduce unwanted pregnancy – comprehensive sex education in schools, forcing insurance companies to cover family planning services and providing public funds for this effort, and ensuring easy access to emergency contraception. Unfortunately, most anti-choice activists do not support these actions. Like many religious fundamentalists, they seem far more concerned with controlling women and punishing them for having sex than saving lives.