Abortion can’t be stopped by criminalizing those who are involved. Bans on abortion simply don’t work.
Recent laws passed in Texas have made the issue of abortion front and center. Luckily, in Washington, there has been legislation passed to make sure that even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the right to have an abortion will still be protected here.
RCW 9.02.100 is the law that protects the right to abortion. This long-standing law, approved in 1991, assures actions such as; allowing women to have the right to choose or refuse birth control and the right to have an abortion. This means the state will not interfere with the right to have an abortion and that the state will not discriminate against those who exercise these rights.
However, there are some limitations to this law. For example, private medical facilities can refuse to perform abortions and can discriminate against women based on whether or not they are on birth control or had an abortion.
We Washingtonians should consider ourselves lucky to have a law that protects the fundamental right to have an abortion in place. The new law criminalizing abortions that was put in place in Texas is ridiculous as it will not help with the number of abortions.
Studies have shown that banning abortions does not reduce the number of abortions. It only reduces the number of safe abortions. Instead, unwanted pregnancies are gotten rid of in a variety of unsafe ways. These unsafe abortions can have horrible outcomes such as causing serious harm and can even be lethal to the mother, even if it doesn’t terminate the pregnancy..
Kenneth Meier et al., the authors of “The Impact of Sate-Level Restrictions on Abortion” did an “11 year analysis of 23 separate policy actions…” and they found that “… no evidence that these policies either individually or aggregated, had an appreciable impact on states’ abortion rates”. This means that bans on abortion do not actually stop abortions, instead, they only impact safe ones.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 2010 and 2014 about 45% of all abortions worldwide were unsafe. In addition to this, “each year between 4.7% and 13.2% of maternal deaths can be attributed to unsafe abortions.”
While deaths caused by unsafe abortions happen in the US according to the CDC, the WHO says “The rate of unsafe abortion is higher where access to effective contraception and safe abortion is limited or unavailable.”
The only way to help limit the number of abortions, unsafe or safe, is to teach people about their reproductive health and to help them with contraceptives.
A study was done by Elizabeth Sully et al. entitled “Adding It Up: Investing in Sexual and Reproductive Health in 2019” found that by investing in sexual and reproductive health there would be a drop in unsafe abortion deaths by 72% and the number of unintended pregnancies would drop by 68%.
Abortion is a controversial topic, but it is part of a much bigger issue: The lack of reproductive health taught all around the world. No matter what you believe about abortion, you should be able to recognize that teaching people about their reproductive health and making access to contraceptives easier will help many issues including unwanted pregnancies and therefore abortion.