by: Rida Attaurrehman
It is imperative for women to have access to reproductive healthcare and all the choices therein because it is a fundamental human right to be able to choose what happens to your body and how. There have been countless debates over the scope of women’s healthcare, particularly when it comes to the question of access to abortion. According to National Review, the vast majority of people who oppose a woman’s right to full reproductive health choices are men.
Across the board in American society and politics there is a strong belief that decisions should be made by the stakeholders. For example, gun owners want to choose their guns, people want to make their own decision about their diet, and people want to decide what to do with their money. Therefore it follows that people should be able to choose what to do with their own bodies.
Interestingly, the vast majority of opponents of women having full access to reproductive healthcare are men in politics. Adding onto this 71 percent of elected officials are men as opposed to the small number of women which tips the balance and judgments when it comes to women’s health care. According to Huffington Post. “An all-male panel of House lawmakers considered a bill on Thursday that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.” The large amount of male republican law-makers makes justifying women’s reproductive rights that much more difficult.
“The Who” and “The Why”
Not only should women be able to make their own choices regarding their reproductive rights but on healthcare as well. The Federation of America (PPFA), more commonly known as Planned Parenthood, has provided affordable and easily accessible healthcare for all women. According to Scientific American, 97% of the services PPFA provides have nothing to do with abortion. Their services include breast cancer screening, and STI testing and treatment. Furthermore many low income women and women of color who only have Planned Parenthood as their only source for healthcare. According to Think Progress, when many Republicans were in the process of defunding PPFA there was a shooting that took place at a Planned Parenthood Clinic taking 3 lives away. According to Kevinmd, defunding PPFA increases the vulnerability of women who have PPFA as their only access to health care, and makes them more prone to STIs, cancers, and poorly spaced births. Defunding PPFA only causes women to be cut off from their affordable health care with not many other options.
Planned Parenthood was first opened as birth control clinic called “American Birth Control League” dating back to 1921 in Brooklyn, NY. Today, PPFA offers a wide rage of services such as breast cancer screenings, STI treatment/testing, birth control, pregnancy tests, abortion and many more. According to Fact Check, “Abortions accounted for 3 percent of the nearly 10.6 million total services provided by Planned Parenthood.” In 2013 there were 4.5 million STI testings and treatment performed at Planned Parenthood. PPFA has been defunded due to “pro-life” people who view abortion as killing unborn children.
Pregnant women receive information on the options they have once they give birth, which include keeping the baby or putting it up for adoption. There has been misinformation claiming PPFA forces women to get abortions when it is not true. According to the National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI), in 2005 the infant mortality rate was 8.8 deaths per 100,000 whereas abortion mortality was 0.6 deaths per 100,000 Consequently, there are more complications related to giving birth than abortion. Letting others decide reproductive rights and health care puts women’s lives on the line.
PPFA is able to provide health care services for women due to government taxation. Republican candidates, along with those who are pro-life refuse to acknowledge that only 3% of their services have been for abortion. Taxpayers supply about 40% of Planned Parenthood’s funding and many Americans, especially pro-life believers do not want their taxes used for funding abortions in anyway.
Teen pregnancies have dropped by 40% and are now lower than ever before due to having access to birth control.Without access to contraception, there would be far more unintended pregnancies than the current amount. According to Guttmacher, “Currently, about half (51%) of the 6.6 million pregnancies in the United States Leach year (3.4 million) are unintended.”
When women have free access to contraception it reduces unintended pregnancies and abortion rates go down. Defunding Planned Parenthood will cut off contraception supply only leading to more unwanted pregnancies and higher abortion rates. According to Medicine Wust, “More than 90 percent of abortions occur due to unintended pregnancy.” Abortion rates are now lower than ever before. The rate went from 27.4 per 1,000 to 39% down now with a rate of 17.7 abortions per 1,000 women as use of contraption increased.
The government has provided funding for sexual education targeting teenage girls, however it takes an abstinence-only approach. Not surprisingly, those who were enrolled in abstinence-only programs were still just as likely to engage in any sexual activity as those who are not enrolled.
When answering the question ‘why it’s important for women to have access to reproductive health care’ there are a lot of opinions that are based on issues of health and safety, morality, and personal autonomy. A strong response to the issue is that the cost of denying reproductive rights is substantial across all parts of our society. Some of the repercussions of limiting reproductive health to women are unwanted babies, increased medical problems for women, higher rates if illegal and dangerous abortions. These factors affect everyone because they contribute to a general lack of resources. Further, these issues continue to be invisible in the eyes of those who take a stance as pro life. One attack can be the end of health services for women.
There are many people who are pro-life are not fully connected to whom it affects, women. The others are demanding what women should and should not do with their bodies. It is crucial for women for have access to reproductive health care in order retain moral rights and have freedom with what they do to their bodies.