The Women You Know

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States reversed Roe v. Wade (1973) with their decision on Dobbs v. Jackson, denying millions of American women the fundamental right to decide for themselves whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term. The Dobbs decision puts state lawmakers in the driver’s seat, many of whom are giddy to shut down access to any and all abortion services, treating women as wards of their respective states.

It’s puzzling to me why, in 2022, America is still gnashing at the teeth over women’s choice when, in reality, abortion has always existed. Reproduction, and how to prevent it, has forever been of fundamental concern to women – the very people charged with this awesome responsibility. Long before Roe v. Wade, women knew what herbs to take, what tools to use, to terminate a pregnancy, sometimes putting their very lives on the line to do so.

In the United States, by age 45, almost 1 in 4 women will have had an abortion. Think about that for a moment. Look around. These are women you know. Mothers, daughters, granddaughters, sisters, and so on. Women you know, love, and trust.

According to the CDC, the majority of abortions – 93% in 2019 – occur during the first trimester of a pregnancy. The Guttmacher Institute’s preliminary data from its forthcoming study says that 2020 was the first time that more than half of all abortions in clinical settings in the U.S. were medication abortions. In other words, induced miscarriages. Abortion medication (mifepristone and misoprostol) is approved for use up to the 10th week of pregnancy. More than half of all states plan to ban its use.

One thing is for sure: women will suffer because of the Dobbs decision, especially poor women and women whose pregnancies put their lives at risk. People like the woman I babysat for when I was a teenager, a mother of two, whose doctors discovered an aggressive cancer in her reproductive organs after she became pregnant. Or like another woman I know, again a mother of two, who had what is considered a late-term abortion (after 20 weeks) when her dying fetus became a threat to her life. The CDC estimates that late-term abortions account for less than 1% of all abortions.

So how does the United States stack up with the rest of the world on the issue of abortion? With the Dobbs decision, the United States joins Iran, North Korea, and Russia as gobal outliers in clamping down on reproductive rights.

Do yourself and the women you love a favor and become informed about abortion. A Good Place to Start is The Turnaway Study and its corresponding book by lead researcher Dr. Diana Greene Foster. I also recommend the eye-opening documentary, 12th & Delaware (Available on HBO and Amazon).

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