Reproductive Freedom (Speech)

Our world is so advanced. We have screens of glass that collect information for us. We have medical procedures that shock someone to bring them back to life. We even have machines that can take us out of this world and into the rest of the universe. And while we have all these amazing things, we also have ways to give women the choice to end or continue a pregnancy. The thing is, that “choice” is currently being fought over. It’s important to know that such a major decision belongs to one person and one person only– no one else. As a young girl myself who could possibly be put in a difficult situation like this one, I feel like it’s my duty to fight for this right. The right of people to terminate pregnancies, which must be protected in all situations. 

It’s astonishing that some people assume they can tell women what to do with their bodies without even knowing the situation. Issuing a blanket statement to say that no one should be getting abortions is simply insensitive and too much of a generalization to affect people positively. A study done in 2004 by the Guttmacher Institute found that 74% of women who ended their pregnancies did so because a kid would mess with their education or care of other dependents, 73% knew they couldn’t afford a child at that time, and 48% simply couldn’t be a single mother. Now, those numbers don’t add up to 100. Clearly. See, there were lots of women who listed multiple reasons as to why they had abortions– that’s why the numbers overlap. Because it’s not just one thing that makes someone decide to terminate a pregnancy. The circumstances can be intricate & convoluted in tons of ways. 

Truthfully, banning all abortions really only means banning safe abortions. The World Health Organization found that there were 25 million unsafe terminations each year from 2010-2014 worldwide. And of course, the people most likely to have there are the poor, no matter what country we’re talking about. Be real: if someone is rich, pregnant, and desperate to not be pregnant, they will find a way. So there are millions of people at risk each year, and it’s always the most vulnerable and low-income. 

According to the Center for Reproductive Rights in 2007, the 1973 case Roe v. Wade ended with a Supreme Court decision that all women have the right to terminate their pregnancies, at least in the first trimester. To repeat: the Supreme Court decided that women have the right to terminate pregnancies. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines legal abortion as “an intervention performed by a licensed clinician… to terminate an ongoing pregnancy.” But here’s the thing: not all abortions are done legally or with someone who knows what they’re doing.

Geoffrey Stone of the Daily Beast in 2018 finds that before Roe v. Wade, women used insane methods– ranging from throwing themselves down flights of stairs to sticking wire hangars in themselves to ingesting a terrifying amount of chemicals. Luckily, Roe v. Wade happened and abortion eventually became legal. 

But there’s a difference between having legal abortions and having accessible ones. There are roughly 2,700 pregnancy centers in the US, and 1,000 less abortion providers (Oliver, 2018). The difference between the two is that abortion providers allow you to make your own choice, while pregnancy centers will make it seem like there’s only one way to go. And some states, like Mississippi, only have 1 abortion provider, but 38 pregnancy centers (Oliver, 2018). Which is 100% fine for women that want to keep the kid, but leaves those who don’t without an option. 

Some centers intentionally give out false information to pregnant women. Heartbeat International sells scripts full of fake information to pro-life clinics. These false facts include saying that, “35% of suicidal behaviors may be attributed to abortion,” and that “abortion almost doubles the risk of breast cancer.” BOTH statements are fake and unsupported by evidence; these centers are deceptive magicians; using slight of hand to make people believe something that’s not true (Oliver, 2018). Another lie is that abortions are life-threatening and way more dangerous than pregnancies, which is also false. Warren Hern for the New York Times found that the maternal mortality ratio in the US in 2018 was roughly 20 women dead per 100,000 pregnancies. In contrast, the death rate for abortions was about 1 woman per 100,000. So with the same amount of people, 20 women died from pregnancies versus 1 dying from an abortion. To put that all together, abortions are not more dangerous than going through childbirth. 

Despite these facts, the war over reproductive rights rages on. Recently, there was an Alabama bill to ban almost all abortions in the state, with little to no exceptions. Not to mention the fact that the designers of it had the ulterior motive of getting it brought up to the Supreme Court, which now has a conservative tilt of 5-4. Alabama legislators want the ban to be challenged in hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade (Blinder, Williams. 2019).

Now let me address the moral argument. Because with even all this in mind, you still might think “well, what about the baby? What if it grows up to save lives?” Which is a fair argument, but… what if the pregnant teenage girl does? Wouldn’t being a young mother hurt her path to being a hero? Or, what if there’s a mother out there who barely has enough to support her two other children? Kids are expensive. Hillary Hoffower from Business Insider found that in 2018 the average cost of giving birth in the US was $10,800– before you factor in care pre- and post- birth. To compare, first-trimester abortions are under $1,000 at Planned Parenthood. But $10,800 is just the average amount. There are often complications, and C-Sections mean additional costs. All this adds up. Though someone may want, desperately, to have a child, they simply might not be able to because of their financial situation. Families that have low income plus other children to care for may just not be able to handle an extra child. As I said before, 74% of women who had abortions did it because having another kid would stop them from being able to properly care for their already-in-this-world children. What if families just can’t handle so heavy of a financial burden?

I should correct myself, though. I said “what if.” But these aren’t hypotheticals. These aren’t “maybe” situations. These are things that actually happen, really and truly, every single day. Because this is a tough world that we’re living in. One that isn’t friendly to pregnant teenagers or single mothers. 

The best thing that we can do is to keep an open mind. When someone comes up to you to help them make a decision, give them your full support, no matter what they choose. Whether they want to end the pregnancy or continue it, make sure they know it should be their choice. Not their boyfriend’s, not their husband’s, not the state’s, theirs. 

Helping them through it will give them a much, much better life in the wake of a tough situation. Making the choice to end a pregnancy is one that weighs on someone’s soul, it’s not something that’s taken lightly. It’s like the trolley problem, having to choose between two impossible options. So your mother, sister, friend, or cousin needs your support in a difficult time. Be there for them, and whatever they decide, stand by them.

Now, in case you haven’t been listening at all to anything I’ve said (which is understandable, since I’m the thirty-first speaker) I want you to listen to this, the bottom line: women, in all states, territories, or situations must have reproductive power over their own bodies. It’s the only way we can advance as a society & protect bodily freedom. The choice doesn’t belong to anyone else, no matter the situation. Everyone should be able to make their own decisions regarding their body, no matter the circumstances. Think about it: when all is said and done, what do we have if not freedom over ourselves?


References

(2007) Roe v. Wade – then and now. Center for Reproductive Rights. Retrieved from 

https://reproductiverights.org/document/roe-v-wade-then-and-now

(2011) How much does it cost to get an abortion? Planned Parenthood. Retrieved from 

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/ask-experts/how-much-does-it

-cost-to-get-an-abortion

(2019) Preventing unsafe abortion. World Health Organization. Retrieved from 

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/preventing-unsafe-abortion

(2019). Reasons US women have abortions: quantative & qualitative perspectives. 

Guttmacher Institute. Retrieved from 

https://www.guttmacher.org/journals/psrh/2005/reasons-us-women-have-abortions-quantitative-and-qualitative-perspectives

Hern, Warren. (2019) Pregnancy kills. Abortion saves lives. The New York Times. 

Retrieved from 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/21/opinion/alabama-law-abortion.html?searc

hResultPosition=1

Hoffower, Hillary. (2018) How much it costs to have a baby in every state, whether you 

have health insurance or don’t. Business Insider. Retrieved from 

https://www.businessinsider.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-have-a-baby-201

8-4

Stone, Geoffrey. (2018) Here’s what life was like for American women in America 

before ‘Roe v. Wade.’ The Daily Beast. Retrieved from 

https://www.thedailybeast.com/heres-what-life-was-like-for-american-women-i

n-america-before-roe-v-wade

Oliver, John. (2018) Crisis pregnancy centers. Last Week Tonight. Retrieved from 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NNpkv3Us1I

Williams, Timothy. Blinder, Alan. (2019) Lawmakers vote to effectively ban abortion in 

Alabama. New York Times. Retrieved from 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/14/us/abortion-law-alabama.html?action=cli

ck&module=RelatedCoverage&pgtype=Article&region=Footer

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