There was some good news this week in the world of reproductive rights. The Plan B pill emergency contraceptive (the Morning After pill) will now be available over the counter without the need for a prescription for any woman (or man) over the age of 15. There was no medical reason to restrict the sale, but like so many of the political decisions surrounding reproductive health, medical necessity is rarely a consideration.
In the mean time, the U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote next week on a nationwide ban on abortions after 20 weeks. Currently, abortions can be preformed up to 24 weeks, what is considered the point of viability for a fetus. The 20 week number is based on some questionable science that purports this is the point when a fetus can feel pain. (I will let you find a link for that one - pro tip - don't search images.) Science has come to the conclusion that this is not true, but again, why have science when we can just have blatant sexism.
I suppose that the people who are trying to make abortions illegal think this is the best way to prevent abortions. People won't get abortions if its illegal, right? I mean, that seems to work for things like marijuana, or hiring people without green cards. And hey, de-funding Planned Parenthood won't hurt anyone besides those whores who use abortions as birth control. And why not get rid of any sort of sex ed for our kids. What they don't know won't hurt them.
The thing is, none of that is true.
When abortions are illegal or unobtainable, women don't just stop getting them. They end up getting illegal and potentially deadly abortions.
When women's health clinics like Planned Parenthood are closed, it's not just getting abortion out of a given area. Access to free or low-cost birth control is taken away. Free STD testing is gone. Free or low-cost pap smears are gone. Free or low-cost cancer screenings are gone.
When sex education stops dealing in fact, no matter how uncomfortable that fact is, the rates of teen age pregnancy go up. When kids are only told not to have sex, at all, ever, until they are married, surprise! They have sex anyway and usually without any sort of protection.
So we have the following:
- Abortions becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. Between bogus waiting periods, unnecessary ultrasounds, and outright bans, safe and timely abortions are becoming less available for an alarming number of women.
- Sex education is not consistently based on science, and does not always include information about how to prevent pregnancy or STDs.
- Programs that help low-income mothers and children are being slashed. Things like WIC (Women, Infants and Children) and the SNAP programs are being cut more and more with every budget.
- Access to birth control - that thing that actual prevents abortions in the first place - is still under attack. The provisions in the Affordable Care Act requiring insurance that covers contraceptives - included a provision that religious organizations did not have to comply. Churches directly, but not places like Catholic hospitals or schools. They are fighting this requirement.
- Legislative members across the country have suddenly become OB/GYNs overnight. Rapes no longer cause pregnancy, women can just prevent that with the power of our minds. Unless of course we enjoyed being raped. That's how pregnancy happens.
Keep choice free. Call your representative, call your senator, support Planned Parenthood.