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Abortion Rights Under Fire

Ironic, isn’t it, that the two defining, battle to the death, never give up, take no survivors, issues for many conservative Republicans are the fight to ban abortions, which they call the “Pro-Life” position and their holy crusade to protect their rights to carry concealed guns, which I refer to as “Pro-Death.”

And isn’t it funny how many of the officials who are the most strident anti-abortionists, who cry phony tears at the thought of the suffering of the un-born, and the most obnoxious and obstreperous supporters of every true-blooded American’s right to have any kind of gun or rifle they want, also are big fans of capital punishment while they maintain that donald trump lost the 2020 election because of widespread voter fraud of which there is no proof and they also refuse to hold trump accountable for the riot at the capitol. It’s called politics, it’s called pandering, it’s called hypocrisy and it’s called business as usual. Many people feel deeply and honestly against abortions, but if you think that most officials care about a woman’s health or fetal viability you are sadly naive. And don’t be misled about the huge importance of the “Pro-Life” vote as trump had solid support after claiming to be against abortion even though before his election, surprise, he favored a woman’s right to have an abortion.

As a matter of fact, public opinion on abortion has remained been pretty stable, since the 1970s, as Gallup polling has found that around 50 percent of Americans say abortions should be “legal under certain circumstances,” about 20 percent say it should be illegal under all circumstances and 30 percent say it should be legal under all circumstances

In the landmark, 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a woman has a right to abort a fetus if it is less than 24 weeks old, the point at which the fetus could be viable and live outside of the womb.

Apparently Texas and Mississippi and dozens of other states, largely in the midwest and the south, beg to differ.

Right now those two bastions of reactionary politics, Texas and Mississippi, are in a race for the most restrictive abortion laws. Mississippi law says a fetus is viable and cannot be aborted after 15 weeks but not to be outdone, Texas just enacted a law banning abortions after six weeks or the moment when the fetal heart beat can be detected. You would think they could at least get their collective, right wing acts together on the date of viability, but no.

Challenges to the Mississippi law and a New York law allowing people to carry concealed weapons will be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court sometime during its next nine-month session. A decision upholding the Mississippi law could effectively nullify Roe V. Wade by sharply limiting the definition viability and would give a green light for other states to enact equally restrictive laws.
Many abortion opponents want the nation to return to the bad old days when abortion was illegal and women sought abortions and often died, in secret, unlicensed facilities or when they performed their own clandestine abortions. Most opponents want abortion outlawed, period, and they claim that conception begins at the moment the egg is fertilized which is a strange argument because viability is defined as the moment when a fetus can survive outside of the womb and at the moment of conception, the fetus is just a growing jangle of cells that have no more chance of surviving outside the womb than the Jets have of winning a Super Bowl, both incredibly impossible. Might as well say that viability begins with the first kiss or even that first moment of eye contact between a man and woman, it’s just as plausible as saying viability begins at conception.

Opponents of abortion label their effort as “Pro-Life” while they say those who support Roe V. Wade are “Pro-Abortion” which is really very misleading and calculated to draw pictures of crazed women who give up their babies on a whim and care only about themselves. No woman has an abortion cavalierly and no woman has an abortion without thinking long and hard and no woman goes through it without suffering emotional scars from the decision.

There is no stronger right than a woman’s right to privacy in matters of their own bodies, including abortion. The decision should be made in consultation with a doctor and not a politician and certainly not a religious person who is more likely to condemn a woman who has an abortion to a lifetime in purgatory or worse. Central to the “Pro-Life” argument is that a fetus that has not reached viability can feel pain, an argument that has not been born out by science but who needs fact-based arguments when you can have decisions that are based on bigotry, false information and politics.

For those who care, research from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, as well as the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in the United Kingdom, found “there is not evidence that fetuses can feel pain before the third trimester.”

Just to make clear the extend of the concerted, coordinated onslaught to outlaw abortions, the Guttmacher Institute, which supports a woman’s right to have an abortion, reported that the Mississippi restriction, passed in 2018, is just one of hundreds of abortion measures that state legislatures passed in recent years and that in 2021 alone, 46 states introduced more than 500 abortion restrictions, of which more than 60 measures have been enacted.

This is a critical moment in the fight to protect a woman’s right to choose. Last term, a 5–4 majority voted to block a Louisiana abortion limit, with Chief Justice John Roberts casting the deciding vote alongside Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the court’s three other liberal justices. But trump’s replacement of the late Ginsburg with Justice Amy Coney Barrett, has resulted in a 6–3 majority conservative court and made the fate of longstanding federal abortion protections even further tenuous.

The Guttmacher Institute reported:

* One in four women will have an abortion by the age of 45.

* Around a quarter of most women who receive abortions do so because they feel the timing is wrong or that they cannot financially provide for their child.

* Less than .5 percent of women get an abortion because they have conceived from rape.

* About 4 percent of women who receive abortions do so because of health-related issues.

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Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer

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Phil Garber

Phil Garber

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer

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