Reproductive Justice: What You Need to Know

Your right to healthcare is under attack.

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Thousands of demonstrators march in support of Planned Parenthood and pro-choice as they protest a state decision that would effectively halt abortions by revoking the license of the last center in the state that performs the procedure, during a rally in St. Louis, Missouri, May 30, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Photo by: SAUL LOEB

SAUL LOEB

Once again, the battle for abortion access is center stage. While the intended purpose of abortion bans and restrictions is to protect life, they actually do the opposite. History has shown that when states and countries ban (or even partially ban) access to reproductive care, it greatly hurts public health.

Banning abortions won’t stop abortions from happening. The procedure will always continue. Banning this safe, legal medical procedure will only end safe abortions, putting the health of the pregnant person at great risk. Denying access to basic healthcare, which includes abortion, can be damaging to both physical and mental health. Restricting access to safe and sterile medical facilities and criminalizing trained doctors only increases the chances of an individual choosing to terminate a pregnancy on their own, which is extremely dangerous and potentially fatal.

Individuals choose abortion for varied, personal reasons, and while some situations may share commonalities, each reason is unique. The decision to seek an abortion or not is a decision that can only be made by the pregnant person, with input from their doctor and potentially their partner. Notice that the pregnant person's government officials do not make this short list.

Abortion bans also disproportionately affect LGBTQ+ people, low-income individuals and people of color. Many rely on institutions including Planned Parenthood, not only for abortions, but for other healthcare needs such as hormone therapy, STD/STI and cancer screenings, birth control, and family health services, all at a low cost. The crackdown on abortions may, and in some states already has, force these institutions to close their doors, which puts well-being at risk for the many dependent upon these organizations for their basic healthcare needs.

Instead of restricting abortion access as a means to advocate for life, there are safer, more effective ways for government officials to do so. Some ideas? Establishing a federal living wage. Greater investment in comprehensive sexual education in schools (studies have shown time and time again that when teens and young adults are properly educated in sexual health and reproduction, there are far fewer unwanted, unplanned pregnancies). Universal healthcare. Ending restrictions on adoptions from same-sex couples. Guaranteed paid-sick and parental leave from work. These are just a few of the many ways legislators could truly protect life, if that claim is truly their aim.

Banning abortion will never be the answer. Protection of life can and should expand well past birth and if we can all agree to that, our country could be a much healthier, happier and safer place for all.

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