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  • Writer's pictureEast Spotlight Newspaper

Pick and Choose: States and Abortion

Abortion is a tricky topic. The phenomenon is potent, with the ability to change a person’s perspective by circumstance; one answer feels right in this case, but wrong in that. The dichotomy over women’s reproductive rights bleeds into a battle of morality. All around, people approach the issue with heavy emotion. A person can try and fathom a personal stance, but with a change in day or wind’s direction, a person can confuse themselves over what is most right.

In recent weeks, state legislatures have taken advantage of Roe v. Wade’s overturning. Lawmakers have enacted policy with defiance, limiting abortion access more than it has been in over 40 years. We the people, contemplate our own stance on the topic, while state legislatures claim to know it all. 

The Supreme Court ruled that abortion is not protected by the Fourteenth Amendment’s implied right to privacy, and that decision alone is unsurprising. What is more striking, however, is states’ eagerness to restrict abortion, and consequently, women’s access to healthcare.  

Florida has sought to crush abortion rates since 2022, with most recently on May 1st, 2024, women are legally barred from accessing abortion once six weeks into pregnancy. While rare circumstances, like pregnancy complications, can exempt a woman from this six week deadline, a number of women will likely be unaware of their situation before this timestamp. Governor DeSantis boasted of Florida’s initiative to defend life and protect the American family: it takes six weeks for a fetus to develop a heartbeat.

So where should a line be drawn, restricting abortion when the fetus seems human enough? Besides the physical development of a fetus, there is no difference, from conception to birth, of an unborn baby’s genetic code. A zygote is encrypted with DNA. Thus, no matter what time in the pregnancy, life is life, a two-day old fetus is the same source of life as one of seven months. 

Another argument, where anyone with humanity can agree, is that abortion should be restricted once an unborn child can feel pain. According to the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine, it takes 24-25 weeks of gestation before a fetus can feel physical pain. However, before that time, whether someone takes a plan B the day after conception, or 8 weeks into pregnancy, it is technically killing a potential human baby. Plan B is legal in Texas, a state that has outlawed abortion completely. There is a misalignment of abortion policy. 

Nevertheless, Florida’s new abortion policy does not end with its six week limit. The state, like many others, is also instituting a 24-hour waiting period. Meaning, a woman must wait 24 hours after a consultation before having a procedure. Ideally, a day-long time restriction ensures that every individual is guaranteed time to review and make a more self-assured decision in the most severe decision they will ever make. A 24-hour waiting period is crucial in giving time for a broader perspective to prevail, as abortion is the unideal option. 

Believable enough, Florida policy is mild when it comes to the 14 states of Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia have banned abortion completely, except in rare circumstances. For many, the spread of abortion bans feels like the United States is regressing, going back in time, and for others, the bans feel justified for a long time waiting. 

Colorado is one out of six states, and Washington D.C., with no abortion term limit. Which brings to concern, how many abortions are happening after that 20 weeks. According to the Center for Disease and Control, 93% of abortions were performed at or before 13 weeks of pregnancy, 6% between 14 and 20 weeks, and 1% were at or after 21 weeks. However, what we are seeing is that women are being redirected from states like Florida to states like North Carolina, Virginia, and New Jersey for abortion operations.

Abortion policy is messy, and yes the Supreme Court ruled that this subject be regulated by the states and not the federal government. Abortion does not need to have a standard form of business across the country, however, states ought to institute policy that is to the benefit of both new life, and half of the American population: women. 

East senior, Anna Boyle, expresses, “People need to realize that women’s bodily autonomy should not be put on the back burner.” Anna concludes, “It’s a person.” Anna expresses the sentiments of many women and men who feel gender equality must include reproductive health rights. Similarly, East senior Sofia Saavedra expresses her concern for new state abortion laws. She explains, “It's a safety issue, limiting the right to medical care, means dangerous pregnancies can happen.” It feels as though state legislatures are abandoning women, and their reproductive health.

East senior, Sasha Bull, responds that abortion bans feel like, “A limit on personal freedom.” From an ordinary person’s standpoint, the government cannot and should not overstep the personal life of its constituents. As of today, the government is doing exactly that, pushing legislation with a political agenda, and not to the benefit of its inhabitants. Not to the benefit of a 17-year-old girl who cannot even vote. 

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