Women’s Reproductive Rights
Oh, the cookies crumbled
Forty years ago, the US Supreme Court ruling in Roe vs Wade didn’t invent abortions; it allowed them to be done in a safer manner.
While campaigning for governor, Pat McCrory said that he would not sign any bill that affected the rights of women to have access to healthcare for reproduction issues. Instead of keeping his promise, he offered protesters cookies. With that one act, his relationship with women crumbled.
In 2013, legislators used a motorcycle safety bill as the vehicle to restrict access to abortion clinics and in doing so also reduced access to a wider range of women’s healthcare needs
The law now bans comprehensive reproductive health care coverage for more than 367,000 city and county employees. It also requires the Department of Health and Human Services to consider new restrictions that apply only to women’s health centers that provide abortion care, thus forcing the closure of many of the state’s clinics offering such care. That also translated into many other health services to women – such as pap smears and breast exams – to be eliminated with the closures.
Many who describe themselves as ‘pro life’ have joined the ‘pro choice’ in protesting the new laws because, while they don’t approve of or wouldn’t have an abortion, they remember the past and feel it has to be an individual’s own decision.
Historically, women around the world have tried to end their unintended pregnancies whether abortion is legal or not, often jeopardizing their safety and health by self-inducing or seeking a dangerous illegal procedure.
While there is very little relationship between abortion legality and abortion incidence, there is a strong correlation between abortion legality and abortion safety.
Estimates of the number of illegal abortions in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s range from200,000 to 1.2 million per year. Prior to Roe v. Wade, as many as 5,000 women in the U.S. died annually as a direct result of unsafe abortions.
According to the World Health Organization the death rate from abortion is now just 0.6 per 100,000 procedures.
Legalized abortion allows women to obtain timely abortions, thereby reducing the risk of complications. In 1970, one in four abortions in the United States took place at or after 13 weeks gestation. In 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 92 percent of abortions were performed within the first trimester (64 percent were performed at under eight weeks gestation). Few abortions (7 percent) were performed at 14–20 weeks’ gestation, and even fewer (1.3 percent) were performed greater than 21 weeks gestation.
The World Health Organization defines unsafe abortion as a procedure for terminating a pregnancy that is performed by an individual lacking the necessary skills, or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards, or both. Unsafe abortion is common in places where abortion is illegal. Worldwide, almost half of abortions are unsafe, and nearly all unsafe abortions (98 percent) occur in developing countries. In countries where abortion remains unsafe, it is a leading cause of maternal mortality.
Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the abortion rate is 29 per 1,000 women of child-bearing age in Africa, and 32 per 1,000 in Latin America — regions in which abortion is illegal under most circumstances in the majority of countries. The rate is 12 per 1,000 in Western Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds.
Adapted from articles from the Gutthmacher Institute.