Friday, January 29, 2016

Women's Health Care 43 Years After Roe v. Wade

The Peace Garden State and others want to challenge the abortion ruling (Camera Press/Redux)

By James H. Williams

January 22nd of 2016 marks the 43rd anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which defended a woman’s right to an abortion. By acknowledging this right, Roe v. Wade helped make abortions safer and more accessible for women across the nation. Access to quality and affordable reproductive health care, including abortions, has been demonstrated to be both lifesaving and key to women’s economic security.
Attempting to understand the importance of this required me to take a step back in time and position myself mentally for the trauma there must be in deciding to abort a pregnancy. All life is a precious gift, but some women must make an emotional and mental life ending decision that will perhaps have a life forever consequences. I lost two sons age 17 and 20; my youngest son was murder and the other we discovered had a heart problem. These events remain very painful and life altering, I can’t image the impact of having an abortion.

I have struggled with thinking about this essay what to say and how to be respectful and compassionate without being patronizing. The mental and physical health issue affecting women seems more complicated and profound. As a male, I recently learned I had Hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid. I lost weight, as my doctor stated most women have the opposite, an under active thyroid which leads to them gaining weight, wanting neither most women would probably prefer the former. I make this statement as an illustration of the compounding effects of health issues for women. Having an abortion under any condition seems very stressful. Which I understand could lead to other complications mentally and physically.

Imagine a woman having what was called a “back-alley” abortions, and many women did and suffered tremendously sometimes deadly consequences. The wire coat hanger method was a popularly known illegal abortion procedure, although they were not the norm. I am certain there were other harrowing procedures done in unsanitary conditions by nonmedical license people for profit and out of despair.

I remember as a young child one of my older sisters having an abortion at one of these places.  I recall seeing the pained expression on her face when she left the house and a stone blank facial expression upon her return.  As a young boy, I recognized something was different about her.

While Roe v. Wade was a historic step in the right direction, many women still lack access to safe, legal, and affordable reproductive health care today. Anti-choice groups and legislators continue to lobby for abortion restrictions in states across the country, putting the right to choose as guaranteed by Roe v. Wade out of reach for many women.

According to A Center For American Progress:

• Since 1973, 1074 state abortion restrictions have been enacted.
• Thirty-one states adopted at least one abortion limits in the past five years.
• Five prominent types of restrictions have shaped this period:

             1. Medication abortion (42 enacted)
             2. Private insurance coverage (34)
             3. Parental involvement or consent (31)
             4. Mandatory counseling (24)
             5. Late-term abortion (23)

Congress must follow-up on the original intent of the Roe v. Wade decision and restore the women, their fundamental legal rights.

Separately the World Health Organization reported in 2008:

• 21.6 million women experience an unsafe abortion worldwide each year; 18.5 million of these occur in developing countries.
• 47 000 women die from complications of unsafe abortion each year.
• Deaths due to unsafe abortion remain close to 13% of all maternal deaths.

* Image:The Peace Garden State and others want to challenge the abortion ruling (Camera Press/Redux)


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