Reproductive rights

A new California ballot measure would make abortion equivalent to first degree murder 

The normalization of anti-abortion speech has gone too far. A petition to make abortion a first degree murder charge has begun in California with the intent of placing the vote on the November 6, 2018 ballot. According to Ballotpedia, this measure would attempt to outlaw “abortion, including cases of rape, incest, or to have the life of the woman, intentionally woman’s state constitutional privacy right to terminate a pregnancy, and to use certain birth control methods.”

A woman, in short, is entitled to the complete and total control of her own body. The ability of a woman to have control of her body is critical to civil rights. If a person is allowed to force a woman to carry a pregnancy she does not wish to have, a slippery slope is introduced. Where is the line drawn? Forcing a woman to carry a child she does not want can cause serious mental harm. Some facilities do not have the financial or social ability to raise and care for a child, and adoption is not an alternative for abortion. According to Children’s Rights, an organization for defending abused and neglected children, on any given day, instead of being united with families, nearly 428,000 children will languish for years in foster homes or institutions, staying in places that are not always safe.

Many pro-life advocates are concerned with the idea that abortion will physically injure the fetus, that they will feel pain during the abortion process. Abortions, however, are painless for first and second trimester fetuses, which are the vast majority of abortions. Fetal nerve cells can react to trauma, but pain reception requires a neocortex – which is not formed until early in the third trimester. Third-trimester abortions are performed exclusively for severe medical problems that would result in death of the fetus or death of the mother. In fact, it is a Roe v. Wade standard that allows individual states to ban an elective third-trimester abortions.

Overall, legally banning abortions, even with the penalty of a first degree murder charge, will not stop abortions. For instance, in El Salvador, abortion is illegal with a possible 30-year prison sentence, yet women can still induce abortions through easily accessible black market drugs or other unsafe methods of abortion. The only drawback for these methods is a lack of medical supervision. Banning abortion will not wipe it out, but it will put women’s lives at risk.

To decrease abortions, one can promote comprehensive sex education, increased access to birth control, condom use, and emergency contraception, all of which reduce the rate of abortion.

Pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion. It simply mean pro-”women can do whatever they want with their own bodies.” Frederica Mathewes-Green, an Eastern Orthodox author and speaker on religion and abortion, said, “no woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.” To force a woman, or anyone with female sex organs, to carry a child that they do not want, is harmful and destructive. No one has the right to tell people what they can and cannot do with their own body.

To stand up for women’s reproductive rights is to defend the right to ownership of one’s own body. So take a stand against those who would tell someone what they must do with their own body.

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