An insight into the importance of bodily autonomy — what should be a basic and fundamental human right.
**TW: Abortion, Infant loss, Pregnancy/Fertility complications**
Being able to decide what you do with your own body should be a personal choice, not a political one. The fact that we are still fighting for this right should show the dire importance of this issue because it can affect the rest of a person’s life. The fact that the government wants to continue to control what people can do with their bodies and attack their personal autonomy is purely unacceptable. Constant attacks against the mission of Planned Parenthood — to increase the accessibility of reproductive healthcare — highlights the ongoing political and communal strife upon individual bodily rights.
The fight to defund Planned Parenthood is championed by those who believe abortion is “infanticide” and that the doctors who perform them are “baby killers,” according to Reverend Katherine Hancock Ragsdale on CBS News — a notably pro-choice individual.
There has been violence against Planned Parenthood on a nationwide scale. In the Seattle Times, they reported that on June 11, 2001, there was a bombing at the Tacoma Clinic that resulted in $6,000 in damages. In The Spokesman-Review they reported that on Sept. 4, 2015, the Pullman clinic was intentionally set on fire. Since the legalization of abortions throughout the US, “abortion providers have been the targets of more than 300 acts of extreme violence, including arson, bombings, murders and butyric acid attacks,” reported CNN in their article “A Brief History of Anti-abortion Violence”.
While Planned Parenthood is known for providing abortions, they offer so much more. Family planning is a key part of the work that they do, including providing information and access to various kinds of birth control. Beyond this, they offer cancer screenings, health and wellness exams and prenatal care — which ensures the health and wellbeing of both the mother and the fetus. They also work to provide education and understanding of sexual orientation, gender identity, safe sex practices and sexually transmitted diseases.
Despite all of this, a stigma still surrounds Planned Parenthood and all of the important work they do. Even though they provide a variety of crucial services, there are still individuals ready to defund them entirely and subsequently take away everything the organization has to offer.
Oftentimes, the conversation surrounding abortion leads to questions about late-term abortions, despite these kinds of abortions rarely being performed. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 99% of abortions occur before 21 weeks. In a Washington Post article titled “Tough questions — and answers — on ‘late-term’ abortions, the law and the women who get them” by Ariana Eunjung Cha, she explains that if a “woman becomes seriously ill late in pregnancy, doctors are working to save both the woman and the fetus. But in rare situations, it’s clear the fetus will not survive, and then the patients and their loved ones must make a decision about whether to put a sick woman at further risk with a delivery.” This is often the reason for a late term abortion.
An article from The Gaurdian titled “The agony of ending a wanted late-term pregnancy: three women speak out” highlights the experience three families went through in having a late-term abortion. One story, in particular, was about Lindsey and Matt and their soon-to-be daughter, Omara.
The couple went to a routine ultrasound appointment where they received devastating news that, “Omara had an aggressive form of lymphangioma growing out of her neck. The fast-growing, inoperable tumor had grown into her brain, heart, and lungs. It had wrapped around her neck, eyes, and deep into her chest. It was so invasive, it was pushing her tongue out of her mouth.”
Her chances of living to the age of viability or birth were slim. Lindsey and Matt made the heartbreaking decision to follow through with an abortion at about 24 weeks into the pregnancy as they did not want their daughter to suffer any longer. They were just a few days away from it being an illegal termination. At the end of their story, Matt explained that these babies are never unwanted, people dont wait until halfway through to have an abortion. A very powerful statement coming from someone who has gone through this experience sharing all that goes into this heartbreaking decision.
Being able to have the decision to take a child out of pain and suffering should be the family’s decision. No one knows what this situation is really like until they experience it themselves, and to place judgment on those who have gone through the unthinkable is heartbreaking. Lindsey, the mother who’s story is shared above, opened up saying that “Abortions are hard decisions made by real people, being open is a call for empathy.” Empathy is key since many women who decide to have these abortions stay quiet in fear of being harassed after enduring such a loss.
A statement made by Dr. Jennifer Conti said in The Guardian article mentioned above that “Asking a woman to carry a fatally flawed pregnancy to term is, at the very least, heartbreaking. I’ve often heard women say that they chose to end such pregnancies because of unselfish reasons: they couldn’t bear the thought of putting their fetus through even more pain or suffering.” This is why organizations like Planned Parenthood are fundamental, not only for those that do decide to terminate a pregnancy, but also for consultation and care in all aspects of reproductive health. These places give people the right to choose what they feel is the right thing to do for themselves but also the life that is within them. It gives people a safe and reliable place to go for one of the hardest experiences of their lives.