For years people with uteruses have been fighting for the rights to an abortion. In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade allowed access to an abortion depending on the trimester system. Many, however, did not agree with this and have been trying to find ways to get around this ruling and ensure that abortions are completely criminalized.
From heartbeat bills to the closing of clinics that provide abortions and other related services, many people who oppose abortions have been trying very hard to ensure the government declares abortions illegal. The newest attempt to ensure that people with uteruses do not get abortions and other abortion services during the COVID-19 pandemic is to declare that abortions are “non-essential medical services.”
And this is exactly what Texas Governor Greg Abbot proposed. The ban in Texas was one of the first, followed by other states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The bans claimed that abortions are not essential medical services and therefore should be postponed or canceled.
An abortion is a time-sensitive, essential procedure. Abortions cannot simply be postponed just because people in charge have a certain agenda. People need this right to an abortion because they can’t wait, and sometimes, it is a life or death situation. Driving hours out of state for a necessary procedure will put them at additional, unnecessary risk. According to the Guttmacher Institute, people may drive up to 20 times further than they normally would to get an abortion if states successfully ban abortions.
Medical officials have reiterated the fact that an abortion is an essential service. Historically, when people who are pregnant need access to an abortion but cannot get it, many tend to get unsafe abortions instead, which could lead to numerous complications such as infection or even death. An influx of patients with complications from unsafe abortions would also overwhelm the medical professionals, which is exactly what the governors who have tried to ban abortions are trying to “prevent.”
Although many state courts overruled the legislation, many states are appealing. These states are not doing this to make room for COVID-19 patients; they are doing this because they oppose abortions and want them to stop.
“It is very clear that anti-abortion rights politicians are shamelessly exploiting this crisis to achieve what has been their long-standing ideological goal to ban abortion in the U.S.,” said CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights Nancy Northrup.
Abortions should be a right that all people with uteruses can choose if they want to. Besides, whether people get abortions or not, those who are pregnant still need medical care regardless, such as check-ups, prenatal vitamins or even access to surgery in case there are complications. Or are these states going to claim that pregnancy is “non-essential” as well?
UPDATE: The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has backed down from an earlier ruling that allowed @GovAbbott to eliminate virtually all abortion in TX. For now, medication abortion is accessible for Texans in need of this time-sensitive health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. pic.twitter.com/nT10Pns9LP
— Planned Parenthood (@PPFA) April 14, 2020
Abortions are essential. People can’t just postpone or decide against receiving abortions simply because certain state governors think that they know more that medical professionals.
There have been horror stories from many people recounting how they got abortions. All of these stories are upsetting and frustrating, from the 24-year-old college student who drove 780 miles to a clinic to the 31-year-old woman who had recently been laid off from her job and already had three kids, whose search for a clinic involved four different states and six clinics.
People should not be going through this much trouble to get an abortion. The COVID-19 pandemic has unmasked many healthcare inequities in our society, and abortion rights and child care are two of these things that are interconnected. Many parents during this pandemic are struggling because schools and childcare facilities are closed, and they cannot afford to stay home. This country does not support working parents, children after they are born or, for that matter, anyone who is not born extremely privileged. Yet it stands unwavering behind the rights of an unborn fetus.
This pattern of constantly trying to outlaw abortions is despicable. An abortion is an essential service that must be accessible to all people with uteruses. State governors that oppose abortions are making dangerous decisions that have nothing to do with medicine and everything to do with a political agenda.
Hopefully the higher courts will continue to declare that the abortion bans are unconstitutional. People all over the country are in danger because of these inane laws; these state governors cannot continue to ban an essential procedure simply because they do not agree with it.
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Anika Veeraraghav is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.