Abortion and Reproductive Choice
Women, and other people capable of pregnancy across the globe have to fight for their rights to bodily autonomy. Bodily autonomy is the human right of a person to have control over their own body in any way. Self-determination over ones’ own body is a crucial, basic human right. Currently, the issue of reproductive choice, especially the issue of abortion continues to carry a large amount of stigma.
Social stigma surrounding abortion may vary slightly depending on cultural differences. However, places like Australia, Kenya, New Zealand, Spain, and the United States of America continue to face laws that deprive women of complete and safe health care.
Here in the U.S., abortion has become a headline topic. States like Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, and Utah passed “heartbeat bills.” Due to these “heartbeat bills,” abortion is restricted to early in the first trimester.
Although the bills passed, the restrictions have not yet been made into law. Following enacting, the law would shut down most, if not all, abortion clinics. Not having access in those locations would require patients to travel out of state for care. With all the attention surrounding abortion law, how can we know we are getting information free of discrimination?
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1973 in the case of Roe V. Wade, that it is a pregnant person’s constitutional right to choose if they want to have a pregnancy termination. Legal abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the United States. Consequently, when women are denied access to legal abortion, illegal abortion is the leading cause of maternal death.
Abortion stigma affects society as a whole, from abortion providers/staff, patients, advocates, volunteers, and educators, to all their families. They encounter this experience directly from anti-abortion protesters who stand outside of clinics every day, and indirectly with legal restrictions and the news coverage surrounding them.
Pregnancy termination is not talked about in everyday conversations between family, friends, co-workers, and politicians. This allows room for the spread of misinformation surrounding abortion. False information steers away from the fact that, when kept legal, abortion is a safe process. Reducing abortion stigma will expand access to total health care, and create space for a person to decide if or when they wish to parent.
There are a variety of different forums about abortion storytelling and reproductive health care. These are organizations that are dedicated to sharing abortion stories and to create a network of compassion and support in order to end abortion stigma. Below are several websites where you can share your story, read about other’s experiences. You can also become informed with real research and news, take action, and find other tools to help end the stigma surrounding abortion health care.