Far from ‘pro-life’ | OP-ED
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While many pro-life advocates across the nation are rejoicing at the likelihood that Roe v. Wade will soon be overturned, pro-choice advocates and people with the ability to get pregnant are terrified, and rightfully so.
Banning abortion will not deter people from attempting to terminate their pregnancies, but it can have major health consequences for pregnant people, especially people of color.
Prior to the 1973 landmark Supreme Court ruling which granted citizens the constitutional right to the procedure, hundreds of cisgender women died each year from unsafe at-home abortions.
It is estimated that one in four women in the U.S. will have an abortion by age 45, and many of the women who receive the procedure have existing financial obstacles.
Nearly half of those who receive abortions live below the federal poverty line, which is a household income of $27,750 or lower for a family of four in 2022.
This also emphasizes the racial disparities that factor into abortion access, as Black and Latinx people are more likely than white people to live in poverty.
Wealthier people will have more access to effective contraception and better access to abortion when needed. And even if they reside in abortion-restrictive states, they will be more able to afford travel for reproductive care.
“Safe abortions, abortions for poor people, abortions for people of color, and abortions for our most vulnerable community members who need them most will be increasingly difficult to come by,” Councilmember Kenda Brooks said in a statement on Tuesday, May 3.
The financial burdens would be devastating and long term. According to the Turnaway Study, which evaluated the impact of denied abortions on women’s lives over several years, evictions and bankruptcies increased by 81% among those not able to terminate a pregnancy.
Not That Simple
Pro-life advocates often argue that instead of terminating a pregnancy, people should give their baby up for adoption. But this is far from a silver bullet solution — in fact, it is not a solution at all.
Suggesting that adoption is an easy replacement for abortion ignores the fact that carrying a pregnancy to term is more dangerous than terminating it. The maternal mortality rate in America is already alarmingly high, particularly for Black women.
Beyond the medical risks, there are also social consequences, from dodging unwarranted questions from friends and strangers alike, and potentially facing abuse from family members or partners who find out about the pregnancy.
According to a study published last December by researchers at Tulane University, homicide is a leading cause of death for pregnant people, with Black women and girls under 25 at the highest risk.
Adoption is also not necessarily the best option for children themselves. The foster care system is already overcrowded, with more than 400,000 children, many of whom report experiencing abuse in the system.
A study by the Casey Family Programs found that foster children were almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder than U.S. war veterans.
And for many children who age out of the system without being adopted, they have no legal relationship to their family and no safety net to fall back on.
Pro-life or pro-birth?
If pro-life advocates, including those who have the power to govern what Americans do with their bodies and their lives, were truly concerned for the welfare of pregnant people and children, they would enact laws to protect them, not punish them.
In country with a gender pay gap, no universal paid family leave, an overwhelmed foster care system, limited access to adequate healthcare and childcare, and a shocking maternal mortality rate, it’s clear that this move to ban abortion is not about life, but about forced reproduction.