by Catharine Cipolla
It is one of the ugliest and most controversial topics to discuss, but a woman’s right to obtain an abortion will always be a prevalent issue. This subject is at the heart of the war on women, especially in the United States. In the most general sense still remains legal in the US after the Supreme Court ruled for the legalization of clinical abortion services in 1973. This law verifies that it is the woman’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy and have an abortion. However, 40 years have passed since the Supreme Court’s ruling of Roe v. Wade and we must ask ourselves a few questions: Do women have safe and legal access to these services in which they are legally entitled? What barriers impede women’s safe and effective access? What are the consequences of denying women their constitutional rights?
Even though abortion stays constitutionally legal, state restrictions and community stigma from anti-abortion politicians and protestors are making it increasingly difficult to access these services by way of supporting and encouraging additionally regulations and restrictions. These limitations to abortion access affect certain female populations more than others. The poor, the young and the geographically remote are experiencing these policy regulations very differently than middle-class urban white women (Rose, 2007). Decreased availability to abortion services is considered a geographical issue because different communities of women are affected by their social statuses – regarding income and available funding – as well as the area in which they live. Not only are state laws being passed that limit funding for those women desperate for financial support to obtain an abortion, but also these laws are affecting the accessibility of abortion providers and clinics. These clinics are being forced to close due to the restrictive state laws that require clinics to be as well supplied as emergency hospital rooms. When these clinics do not have the means to uphold these regulations, they must close their practice. However, the most direct method of closing abortion clinics and preventing abortions has been through community violence and harassment to providers and women. Clinical employees and providers are being harassed and even murdered for their decisions to help women exercise her right to choose. If these clinics choose to discontinue their practices, women must find alternative locations to obtain an abortion. A large percentage of women are therefore forced to travel miles on end to find any open clinics with able doctors. Many Americans, such as doctors and medical students, recognize that a woman’s right to choose what’s best for her own health is being taken away. Medical personnel are doing everything in their power to learn safe abortion techniques and bring these services to women.
The geographical barriers to access through declining abortion providers, limited state funding for these services as well as additional legislation show that politicians are interfering with women’s constitutional right to choose what’s best for her health. They need to remember that laws are not meant to regulate the human body, but even today laws are being proposed and passed that treat women’s bodies as a “site to control” based on certain political and religious beliefs. Every woman’s reproductive experience is different and the reasons for obtaining an abortion differ drastically. Only women have the power and responsibility over their own bodies. Politicians and threatening anti-abortion protestors must stay out of a woman’s decision. It all boils down to the fact that it is the woman’s constitutional right to have access to abortion services if she so requires. With limitations to the accessibility abortion services, women’s right to make their own personal, medical decisions is being robbed from them.