My office is in an abortion clinic. Every day I walk past the protesters, and then through the waiting room filled with women and those who have joined them for support. Looking around the room, I see a range of emotions, some women are nervous, some are relieved, but no matter what they feel I am grateful because I know they will get excellent medical care from qualified and caring doctors and medical professionals. That wasn’t always the case.
Before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade 40 years ago, abortion was for the most part illegal in America. Wealthy women were able to use their financial resources to obtain safe abortions either here or abroad. Poor women weren’t so lucky. In the 1930s my grandmother was told by her doctor that the pregnancy she was carrying would likely kill her, leaving my grandpa a widower and her children orphaned. He told her, “You better find a way to take care of it,” and sent her on her way. Like millions of other women, she found a way to “take care of it” either with a coat hanger or some sort of poison. Some women did this to themselves; others found someone else to do it for them. So many women got sepsis from these unsafe abortions that big city hospitals actually had sepsis wards. Some died. Those who survived were often left infertile. Thanks to the Roe decision, sepsis wards no longer exist because abortions are now provided by qualified medical professionals.
Unfortunately women still get pregnant when they don’t want to. In fact, half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. Half end in abortion. Half don’t. For those women who choose to continue an unplanned pregnancy, Roe provides them with the right to make the decision to carry an unplanned pregnancy to term and become a mother. Without Roe, some women would still have abortions—unsafe, illegal abortions. And unplanned pregnancies would still result in some women becoming moms, but not by choice, rather by circumstance, by force, by law. Abortion opponents say they want to end abortion, but instead of working to reduce unintended pregnancy, they seek to achieve that goal by making abortion inaccessible, unaffordable, shameful and illegal. Their approach doesn’t work. It never has. Not at any time in history, not anywhere on the globe. So what does work? Increasing access to abstinence-based comprehensive sex education and birth control. Fewer unplanned pregnancies automatically equals fewer abortions
Those opposed to abortion are systematically eroding access to abortion, contraception and comprehensive sex education. During the last session, more legislation limiting these commonsense solutions was introduced than in the last ten years combined. As a result of the new restrictions that went into effect recently, some women must now travel to other states to access abortions. The restrictions have even resulted in Ohio physicians moving up routine tests earlier in pregnancy to try to give women critical information before these new laws allow politicians to make private medical decisions for them.
Medicine in Ohio should be practiced by medical standards, not political standards.
Though Roe is the decision that legalized abortion, it is also the decision that said that the personal private decisions about your health care belong to you and not the government. Not your spouse. Not your mom. No one but you. Without it, women are not truly free, and would not be full citizens of this country.
After 40 years of Roe v. Wade, it is time to put the politicking, the shaming and the arguing behind us. I am sick and tired of hearing politicians argue over when or if any abortion should be allowed, and what types of rapes are “legitimate.” All women must have the right to make their own personal medical decisions when faced with an unplanned pregnancy based on their individual situation; no matter whether they decide to parent that child, to place it for adoption, or to have a safe, legal abortion.
It is time to stop allowing politicians to pass medically unnecessary and burdensome restrictions. It is time to stop withholding insurance coverage and funding for abortions. It is time to stand up and say once and for all, reproductive health care choices should be made by women, and no one else. And that woman should have access to the education and medications they need to make the best decisions for themselves and their families—without having to consult their local politicians.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I trust women.