Women’s Change of Opinion on Abortion

The terrified screams can be heard a block around the clinic. Having no other choice, the woman was forced to receive an abortion in the back alley clinic in order to terminate her pregnancy caused by sexual assault. Whether or not this “doctor” is certified, she doesn’t know. She doesn’t know if she’ll even live through the procedure, but she knows this was her only real option, and all she can do is hope for the best. Fast forward to the presentâÂ?¦Now a woman doesn’t have to make the same awful choice her mother did years before when her sibling was aborted.

Abortion is now legal, and she knows she’ll be seeing a real doctor. Granted, there are still some obstacles to overcome, but nothing like having to choose whether to live or die. Abortion has long been a raging debate between pro-life groups, and pro-choice groups. The majority of Americans don’t realize how much the statistics involving abortion have changed in just the past ten years. The number of legal abortions dropped to 853,000 in 2001, from 1.4 million in 1990 Whether from pro-lifers new tactics to stop abortion, the government, or simply taking certain rights for granted, there are less people who consider themselves pro-choice than ever before.

There are numerous people within the pro-choice movement who believe that the reproductive battle has been won. This simply is not true. The current presidential reign of George W. Bush has had the most oppressive policies toward pro-choice options in history. In the middle ages, there were more than 200 instruments, and herbal methods commonly used to perform abortions. Many women were convicted as witches as it was considered a crime of witchcraft for one to do anything to limit the size of a family, offering contraception, or giving something to help stop the pain of childbirth. The current government has a lot of the same principals as the government during the middle ages.

Federal guidelines sent to hospitals earlier this year on treating victims of rape did not mention Plan B, also known as the morning after pill. Plan B is a contraceptive that stops ovulation from happening and could help women who are victims of sexual assault to avoid pregnancy by taking this pill. Rape victims in Colorado aren’t even informed about emergency contraceptives when in the emergency room because Bill Owens, governor of the state said that to require hospitals to do so would raise serious concerns for Roman Catholics like himself. Anti-contraception laws also cause problems. Over 80% of pharmacists surveyed thought they had the right to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control because of these laws.

Since the beginning of George Bush’s anti-choice presidency the nations’ overall grade for reproductive rights dropped to a D- this year from a C- in 2002. Of all of the states, only ten received a grading within the A range. In 2004, over seven hundred pro-life measures were considered within state legislatures, and twenty-nine of these measures were enacted. Compare this to the little over four hundred pro-choice measures considered and only 30 of them were enacted in state legislatures. Almost 2000 anti-choice measures have been considered in state legislatures nationwide since President Bush took office. Between the years 1995 and 2004, states have enacted four-hundred and nine pro-life measures, with 29 alone in 2004. The top five pro-life legislations considered included biased counseling and mandatory delay requirements, refusals to provide medical services, restrictions on teenaged girls receiving reproductive health services including family planning, and targeted regulation of abortion providers.

Consider as well, John Ashcroft subpoenaing women’s private medical records in 2004 arguing that federal law does not recognize doctor-patient confidentiality. Also in 2004 President Bush signed the Unborn Victims of Violence act, which identifies an embryo or fetus as a crime victim separate from its mother. The Bush administration is also in favor of abstinence-only sexual reproduction teaching, which has been proven ineffective, and also not what parents want for their children. 84% of parents want sex education to explain how to obtain and use birth control. There are even more parents who want schools to teach their children how to be tested for HIV and AIDS, as well as how to discuss birth control with a partner, and dealing with the consequences of sex. With the Bush administration, this will never happen. If the Bush administration could, it would repeal the ruling of Roe v. Wade, giving women no reproductive rights whatsoever.

The government is also involving itself in the pro-life/pro-choice battle with federal funding for abortion. The current administration is attempting to stop contraceptive coverage from the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan as well as limit Medicaid family planning expansions. Legislature would like to block legislation which requires insurance companies to provide coverage for contraceptives. Threats are also being used against critics of the Bush administration anti-family planning policies, such as refusing funding, censorship, as well as audits. Family planning programs may also lose funding with the current legislature. The government is not the only obstacle that the pro-choice people have to face. The pro-life activists have started using more brilliant tactics to get their point across to those who may wish to receive an abortion.
Pro-life supporters are still using blatant, hostile tactics to scare women away from abortion. 25% of all abortion clinics are still plagued by violence from pro-life advocates.

Although almost twenty years old, The Silent Scream, a short film of an ultrasound, then abortion from the fetus’s point of view is still being shown and causing controversy. One of the pro-life movement tactics being used is to make pro-choice people out as extremists. The way that pro-life groups do this is by changing their principal question, should woman have a right to choose to more specific questions such as should taxpayers’ money be used to finance abortions? Or can an underage girl undergo an abortion without parental consent. It is much easier to defend the principle of having a choice rather than defending these questions.

Another way that pro-lifers have won ground is by changing their terminology for example, partial-birth abortion. This is a term that Pro-life groups made up knowing that it would make people uncomfortable, and also make others nervous about unborn children upon seeing the images pro-life supporters present. A more technologically advanced way that pro-life supporters have won ground is with sonograms. Recently, technology has made it possible for three dimensional and four dimensional sonograms to be taken. Many pro-life crisis pregnancy centers are now using this technique to change potential mothers’ minds about having an abortion, by giving them sonograms much earlier in a pregnancy than a doctor would. Sonograms promote emotional attachment between the mother and fetus and make it much harder for the mother to abort her child. The pro-lifers have one other advantage over pro-choice advocates. Younger women don’t know of a time when abortion wasn’t available.

“We’ve just moved into an era when every woman of childbearing age has always had the right to choose abortion, Young women don’t remember the hangers and back alleys; they didn’t live with the fear. And now, when a right they’ve taken for granted is in jeopardy, virtually the only people speaking about their choice to terminate a pregnancy are those who say they regret having made it.” A 2003 survey of college freshmen showed that only 55% thought abortion should be legal. The same poll done it 1992 had much different results, with 67% saying that abortion should be legal. More than half of women between eighteen and thirty four didn’t vote in the 2000 election when abortion was one of the main issues. This could have had a major impact on the election because 72% of young women consider themselves pro-choice. At the same time, 54% of the newest voters consider themselves pro-life. Of course these are not the only problems causing the decline in pro-life women.
There are other problems faced by women when it comes to abortion. The number of abortion doctors has been declining; there has been a 37% drop in the number of providers since 1982. Waiting periods and consent laws have made 60,000 women a year decide to carry their babies each year. However, these problems are not as big as the other problems faced by women dealing with abortion issues. If Americans want to keep the choice to choose, something needs to give on one side of the debate or the other.

Whether one is pro-life or pro choice, it is a personal decision, as well as how one deals with his or her beliefs. There have been many changes in this debate just in the past few years, and this trend is likely to continue. Hopefully one day pro-life advocates and pro-choice advocates can come to a common understanding of one another, and this trend of hatred of one another will end.

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