What Does Losing Legalized Abortions Mean?
The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade created a firestorm of controversy. The loss of legalized abortions directly impacts the health and welfare of so many people directly or indirectly. Did the short-sighted decision to deny legal right to abortions puts the entire country in jeopardy? RPCV Health Crusade dissected what losing individual rights to reproductive health mean. Will the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) community stand up for or against legalized abortions?
Will this reversal really stop abortions or merely return them to dangerous back rooms with a stigma of shame? This reversal has a disproportional impact to people who are incarcerated or whose health (or finances) prevent traveling to another state (or country) for reproductive health options. What are their options?
For too long, people in the USA segmented each other into two main categories. Only one segment had overwhelming rights and power over the other. By force or by choice, we evolved as a society. As a country, we learned to be more accepting of personal decisions. Society publicly condemned hate and intolerance. More people had the freedom and confidence to make choices for themselves.
Religion Must Be an Individual Choice
Religion is important to many people. They provide a range of guiding values to the people who choose to practice that religion. But different religions have different beliefs. And some religions conflict with beliefs and practices of other religions.
Some people chose a religion that dictate when and how to worship. Some chose a religion that does not believe in the use of electricity or technology. Many chose to follow religious beliefs on what to eat or not eat. Some people even chose which beliefs to follow within their religion. And then, there are people who chose not to follow any religion but still have beliefs. There are so much differing opinions across beliefs including interpretations of when life begins.
Should one person’s religion dictate someone else’s choices or actions? Shouldn’t each person have the right to choose their own beliefs? Religion must be a personal choice and not a forced belief system.
Legalized Abortions Provided Safe Regulated Options and Personal Privacy
Abortions in the USA were performed long before they were legal. But back then, many abortions were performed in unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
How many of those underground procedures robbed someone of the ability to get pregnant in the future? There were few, if any, options for post-procedure care or problems. How many people died or became disabled from procedures performed by unqualified practitioners?
What is the psychological and physical impact to children born to families that did not want them or would not care for them? How many survivors of rape and incest chose anonymity and abortions over reporting the crime? How many rapists were free to rape again because they were not reported and prosecuted?
But what changed after Roe v Wade? Practitioners are medically trained and licensed to perform abortions. Reproductive care facilities were inspected and regulated. Post-procedure care was available.
Society began lifting the veil of blame and shame on survivors. More people reported criminal acts of rape and incest. Rapists were prosecuted and went on the sex offenders registry. People with limited financial means or are incarcerated had rights and options.
And, one narrow segment of the population did not have to present their private medical records for inspection or debate by the state. They could choose who to discuss potential private medical procedures with. People decided for themselves whether or not to accept the risks and impacts of pregnancy. And, providers provided the best medical care and advice even if it might risk or end the pregnancy.
USA’s Statistics Are Not Impressive
Did the Supreme Court consider the full range of risks and impacts? In addition to creating a slippery slope of imposing one religion onto others, did they increase mortality rates in the USA?
The United States of America already has one of the highest infant mortality rates and maternal mortality rates of any industrialized country. The USA’s Maternity Mortality Rate steadily increased during the Trump administration as it increased restrictions to reproductive health options.
Out of the 193 countries in the United Nations, 186 countries guarantee maternity leave following the birth of a child. The United States is one of 7 countries that do not. Many countries offer guaranteed universal healthcare. The United States does not.
Many of the governors and state representatives who are trying to restrict abortions are the same ones trying to reverse the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Does that mean that the states are offering to provide the needed health options that the ACA protected? Are the states offering free birth control, contraceptives, and health education?
How will states that ban or restrict abortions resolve the mental, physical, time, and financial aspects of someone now being forced to go through a pregnancy? Where is the needed infrastructure for everyone who is now forced to continue the pregnancy?
Is the Infrastructure In Place For Forced Pregnancies?
Before the ACA, some people paid higher health insurance premiums based on gender or were denied insurance altogether based on pre-existing conditions. Will these states now advocate to protect and expand the ACA or offer an equivalent (or more) at the state level?
Will the state guarantee free prenatal care? How will the state ensure quality healthcare to people living in rural or urban areas with limited prenatal care options? What is in place for the mental strain of going through an unwanted pregnancy resulting from a violent criminal act? Did the states implement options to combat postpartum depression and complications?
Only a limited number of employers in the USA offer paid parental leave. Some even deny unpaid parental leave. So what happens to parents or the single parent who do not have affordable daycare options? Will they need to go on welfare to stay home with the child? Will the states provide paid parental leave?
How many states agree to provide full financial support from the point where abortion is denied through to adulthood? Does the fetus qualify for tax credits, social security, child support, and citizenship? Is the state covering the funeral costs and loss of future income of someone who did not survive the forced pregnancy?
For states that criminalize a person offering or receiving reproductive care, will they mandate ankle monitors and data surveillance? Will every person of child-bearing age have to sign a sworn statement on why they need to travel to another state or country? When a pregnant person is incarcerated, is the fetus wrongly imprisoned without due process and legally found guilty of committing a crime? Would deportation of an undocumented pregnant person now mean also exiling a US citizen?
Do PCVs Have Access to Legalized Abortions?
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) served around the world. Some RPCVs navigated societies where certain segments of the population repressed the other. Some of us painfully witnessed the impact when one segment of the population does not have personal freedoms including freedom of choice.
And, RPCVs also served in countries where HCNs have more individual freedom and health support than people living in the USA. Some service countries offer universal healthcare, guaranteed maternity leave, free medication, and more. Despite its wealth, is the United States actually a “developing country”?
This could be an interesting third goal project. Should RPCVs share all the advancements and freedoms that HCNs have that people in the USA do not?
Peace Corps treat pregnancies as another health condition. But how does that apply to abortions? There are unanswered questions surrounding PCVs and reproductive health during service. Will Peace Corps answer these questions?
Is the USA Moving Forward or Backward as a Country?
But Republican governors and state legislatures are making quick sweeping changes to restrict or completely deny reproductive healthcare options. Some are treating pregnant people as criminals. Some want to punish healthcare providers for providing healthcare. How long can they ignore the voters who want to protect access to reproductive health options and other personal freedoms?
In his supporting opinion, Clarence Thomas declared the Supreme Court should continue to reverse additional freedoms and block individual choices. However, he noticeably avoided mentioning one freedom that he personally enjoys, marriage to his wife of a different race. Is it acceptable to want personal freedoms for yourself but deny it to others?
Is this country moving forward or backwards? Will our children grow up with less freedoms than we had? Did the Supreme Court and the Republicans party return us to a dark point in the past? Did this country learn from sins of the past or are we going to repeat them?