Reproductive Regression

Pro-choice activists are gearing up to fight further legal
challenges to Roe v. Wade, but University of
California-Davis professor

Carole Joffe suggests on
that ‘whether
Roe v. Wade is technically still the law of the land is
beside the point.’ Joffe notes that barriers to abortion are
popping up all over the country, and the attendant spike in illegal
abortions has caused healthcare professionals to worry.

Roe v. Wade still stands, but the whirlwind of
political controversy surrounding abortion has caused multiple
barriers, legal and otherwise, to arise between women and the
abortion they desire. Consider, for example, the case of Texan
Geraldo Flores. As Joffe reports, Flores and his girlfriend, teens
at the time, found themselves facing an unwanted pregnancy. The
state has a parental-consent provision, and while researching their
options for obtaining a legal abortion, the couple was provided
with misleading information. In a desperate act, Flores — with his
girlfriend’s consent — stomped on her stomach, causing a
stillbirth of twins. He is now serving a life sentence for two
counts of fetal homicide.

The incident testifies to how difficult it has become for some
people to obtain an abortion. The barriers around the procedure,
from stigma to cost, reflect the ambivalent position the country
has taken: keep it legal, but make it difficult. Joffe suggests
that this stance — and the policies that have come about as a
result of it — is why more women are turning to illegal, and
unsafe, alternatives to the procedure. Furthermore, as Joffe notes,
‘the very policies that could reduce unwanted pregnancies … are
resisted at every turn by right-wing extremists and their allies in
the Bush White House.’ As family-planning services are scaled back,
school kids are force-fed abstinence-only sex education.

Countless women — mostly very young or very poor — have fallen
victim to a climate in which abortion is legal but obtaining one is
increasingly difficult. Cost, access to (mis)information,
notification provisions, and proximity of provider clinics all
factor into an equation that equals bad news for anyone looking to
end an unwanted pregnancy. Abortion may still be a right in the
United States, but access to it is not.
Nick Rose

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Reproductive Regression

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