Forty six years ago, the US Supreme Court ruled that women had a fundamental right to privacy including a pregnant woman's right to choose whether or not to terminate her pregnancy (Roe v Wade). To balance the concerns regarding the unborn fetuws, the court ruled that governments could set regulations during the second trimester and could prohbit abortion during the third trimester (except in cases when termination was necessary to save the health /life of the mother).
In 1992, the Supreme Court modified its ruling to sat that woman had the right to abort a non-viable fetus. Viability was define as the maturation of the fetus so that the fetus was able to survive outside of the womb (23-24 weeks into a pregnancy).
Increasinly, changes have been made to abortion laws at the state level. The Louisiana House passed a bill barring abotion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. Mississippi had passes a similar abortion law which for the time being has been blocked by a federal judge. Alabama's new abortion law would ban abortions at any stage of pregnancy. It would make it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion at any stage of pregnancy unless the mother'ws health was at risk. Georgia has a new abortion law which would ban abortions when there is a detectable heartbeat which can occur as early a 6 weeks into the pregnancy,Texas has banned abortions after 20 weeks even if the fetus has severe and irreversible abnormalities.
Currently six states have only one abortion clinic. Missouri is one of the six states and is poised to become the first state without abortion services in nearly 50 years.
Whether you are "pro-choice" or "pro-life", it is important to appreciate that the rulings made by the US Supreme Court are being challenged. And we are left to wrestle with questions such as:
- Who gets to decide what a pregnant woman can and cannot do to her body?
- Should doctors be punished for providing abortion services?
- Which is worse: an unwanted pregnancy versus an unwanted child?
- What societal safeguards do we provide for unwanted pregnancies and unwanted children?
The answers will affect all of us.
At Today's Woman, I believe that a woman has the right to determine what happens to her body. She should have access to sex education, contraception, prenatal care, maternity leave and daycare services. Her decision to continue or to terminate a pregnancy should be limited to select individuals of her own choosing and her physician. It is a private and personal decision which shouldn't be legislated.
Perhaps you don't agree with me. That's OK. If we truly value life, it is better for us to have the uncomfortable conversations and to work together to protect the sanctity of life and to protect, the living both pre- and post -natally.