ABORTION: The Disappearing Right

January 23, 2020 | PBAT MAGAZINE

By Bonita Saha, Camilla Villagomez, Dingyi Yao, Quan Yuan                  

 

“I’m so grateful; to those strangers who helped me that day, who risked their reputation and their freedom to give me choice.” said Donna; now 76, about having an illegal abortion in the 60’s, when she was about to start her first year of college in Baltimore, Maryland. This happened in the days before the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade which made the legalization of abortion become a reality. But things have changed again in the 46 years that have passed since that legal success for women’s rights.

According to “Pri” journal, 1,193 abortion retrictions have been passed by different states. Abortion restrictions vary by state, today 19 states in the U.S have severe state restrictions that make it very difficult to access it. Although it is still legal in the United States, due to the new laws passed by the governments it is almost impossible to have one in certain parts of the country. In fact 20 states already have laws to ban abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade.

These laws have the goal of enclosing women, starting with the fact that government is trying to take away the freedom of choosing what to do with their own bodies, by banning abortion. There are many people and organizations as well, such as Planned Parenthood, that are advocating so this won’t become a reality.

History of Abortion Rights

“Abortion is a human right. Women should have the right to choose what to do with their body, especially given that we live in a society with so much violence against women” declared a teacher at Flushing International High School, when asked about her opinion about abortion. But it wasn’t always recognized as such in this country.

Roe v. Wade is a case is  about, a decision made by the Supreme Court to protect a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without government restriction on January 22. The court held that a set of Texas statutes criminalizing  abortion violated a woman’s constitutional right of privacy(14th Amendment). The case began in 1970 when “Jane Roe”. A fictional name used to protect the identity of Norma McCorvey - made federal action against Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas County, Texas, where Roe lived. The Court while provides a “right to privacy” that protects a pregnant woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion. However, it held that this right is not absolute, and must be balanced against the government’s interest in protecting women’s health and protecting prenatal life.

Although people often point to Roe v. Wade as guaranteeing the women the right to choose, in reality the fight for abortion rights is still ongoing.​

  • 1973, Roe v. Wade, women could decide by themselves if they wanted to abort in the first trimester.

  • 1977, Hyde amendment, women can not use medicaid funds to have an abortion except in cases of rape, incest or affect women’s health. 

  • 1991, Rust v. Sullivan, prohibit the clinic that get Federal funds to provide information about abortion to the patients. 

  • 1992, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, women don’t have to notice their spouse for do abortion.

  • 1994, Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, prohibit people use violence to stop people get reproductive health services. 

  • 2000, Stenberg v. Carhart, partial-birth abortion are not unconstitutional. 

  • 2000, the Food and Drug Administration, allowed mifepristone to be used for abortion purposes at a very early pregnancy. 

  • 2003, Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, limited women’s from having abortions in the second trimester.

  • 2019, June Medical Services LLC v. Gee case, abortion performer need have admitting privileges in a hospital near the place perform abortion less than 30 miles. (This case is currently ongoing) (.prochoiceamerica.org)

Stopping abortion through Regulations

All of those laws and cases are created or happened in the past decades, after the case of Roe v. Wade. These had the effect of making abortions extremely difficult to obtain.

“How to find somebody who perform abortion is very difficult.” said a woman whose name is Heather and she have lived in the time when abortion was illegal. She had abortion when the time abortion was illegal and provided some of the information about illegal abortion. She said if you want to control your own body the first need to do is find someone to perform abortion for you but at that time find someone to perform abortion is very hard.

Yet today, even with abortion being legal, finding a doctor is sometimes impossible. This is like the issue faced in June Medical Services LLC v. Gee in which the State of Lousiana passed a law that required the abortion performer needs to have a privileges in the hospital less than 30 miles from the place perform abortion. After which a lot of the abortion clinics had to close in Louisiana because they can not get the admitting from the hospital. So this Act make pregnant women find a place do abortion more difficult. If this law is upheld by the Supreme Court, then similar laws will be enacted around the country.

Additionally, Heather said: “And it is extremely expensive and of course young women didn’t have money.” So, during the time that abortion was illegal the second challenge to have an abortion is get the money for the abortion costs, the young women or poor women they will don’t have money to do abortion.

 Based on the information we gather from our uncover investigation, Plan Parenthood, mentioned that there are two type of abortion procedure. For the pills the patient need to take one pill in the abortion center/clinic and they give 4 more pills to take it later the following day. Few weeks after the pills there are taken the patient have to come back to perform an ultrasound in order to conform that the abortion was completed, which coast $600 and it can only be perform up to 11 weeks of pregnancy. 

The other procedure is the surgical one and for that no follow up required. They used a machine to remove the pregnancy from the patient's body. After 11 weeks of pregnancy the surgical one is required to stop the pregnancy, which cost $500.

Presently there is a federal law called the “Hyde Amendment” which said that women cannot use medicaid to do abortion. This is like a law to ensure for the poor people cannot get medical care to have an abortion.

So getting an abortion is becoming hard for many as if it were illegal. The government is trying to stop or decrease women to have an abortion in an indirect way which means even abortion in laws are legal but some laws like “Hyde Amendment” make abortion impossible for some of the pregnant women.

unnamed.png
unnamed%20(1)_edited.jpg
unnamed (2).png

 

 

In the United States, there are 29 of the 50 states are hostile abortion rights and in 2006 the number of states that hostile abortion rights is only 22. The number of states that hostile abortion rights are increase very fast and lot of states that hostile to abortion rights already used some ways to stop women to do abortion.

In States Indiana, the states allowed a doctor that they can choose not to perform an abortion in the second trimester of pregnant. In Alabama, abortion is banned from the time a person is “known to be pregnant;” no exceptions for rape and incest; state could investigate miscarriages; most punitive ban signed since Roe was decided, doctors could be charged with a Class A felony and be sentenced to up to 99 years in prison. In Georgia, abortion is banned at 6 weeks; state could investigate miscarriages; doctors could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. In Kentucky, there are abortion bans at 6 weeks as well, criminalizes providers, under challenge in court. In Mississippi, there are abortion bans at 6 weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest, under challenge in court. In Missouri abortion is banned at 8 weeks with no exceptions for rape and incest; state could investigate miscarriages; doctors could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. And in Ohio, abortion is banned at 6 weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest; doctors could be sentenced to up to one year in prison.

Public Opinion

As young people, FIHS students will be subject to any changes to the abortion laws, so we took a survey of students to see how they felt about abortion rights. The following survey was taken anonymously to ensure honest  so the juniors and seniors wouldn’t feel pressured to take it, also for them to feel safe while answering the questions truly, because nobody would know their identity while talking about such a sensitive topic.

unnamed (3).png

For the general public, Men and women express similar views on abortion; 60% of women say it should be legal in all or most cases, as do 61% of men. This data was taken in 2019.

unnamed (4).png

I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easyGraph I and II shows that half of the people from both genders are in support of abortion rights in Flushing International High School.The data is pretty similar to each other in the outcome, both men and women have a high acceptance rate when it comes to abortion rights.

Supreme Court’s Role

Currently, there is a case in the Supreme Court called June Medical Services LLC v. Gee. The case is about, Act 620 are pass at Louisiana in June 2014, the law are about that the physician who will perform abortion need to have a admitting privileges in a hospital that is located in 30 miles or less form the location where they performed the abortion procedure. There are a lot of clinics challenge this law. They think this law will put a lot of undue pressure on women who are seeking to have a legal abortion, far many doctors lack admission privileges and are outside the range.

This law is similar to one passed in Texas and the Texas law was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the prior case of Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt. Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case was decided on June 27, 2016, and it was to deem Texas’s abortion law unconstitutional, as it put burden on women looking for legal abortion.

Supreme Court is the highest Court in the USA, their decide are so important, because their decision will affect the whole country. The Supreme Court views a case only after it has gone through all the district courts, and decides if a law is unconstitutional or not. The final decision is voted on, and is decided by the majority. Their decisions not only decides if the law will stay, but also sets a precedent for future cases that are related.this case has yet to be voted upon, but considering that 5 out of the 4 justices are conservatives, the results may shift toward an abortion ban in the future.

Constitutional Right

Many of the abortion debates focuses on the Constitution, but very few focuses on the 8th Amendment- against cruel and unusual punishment. The 8th Amendment states “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.'' Based on this amendment a case can be made that many of the abortion laws today are cruel and unusual. For example, “In 2015 March, 33-year-old Indiana woman Purvi Patel is sentenced to 20 years after self-aborting with medication she ordered online. And “In December, 2015 a 31-year-old Tennessee woman Anna Yocca is charged with first-degree attempted murder for trying to self-abort with a coat hanger.”

The punishment given to these women were too extreme just because they didn’t want it to have a child and performed abortion because getting an abortion with a doctor was too difficult.

Additionally, many states have arbitrary dates as the deciding factor for abortion rights regardless of when the woman was aware of pregnancy or whether the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest. For example: In Missouri women can’t perform abortion after the 8th week  and in Utah after 18th week of pregnancy, in Ohio if a fetal heartbeat is detected than women can’t perform abortion. However, at such dates, many women do not even know they are pregnant.

Situation in New York

Fortunately, some of the action that has been taken is in New York where “January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that protects access to abortion even if Roe v. Wade is overturned” This shows that based on the current situation, the New York governor want to make sure that women still have the choice of what they want to do doesn’t matter if the Roe v. Wade case is overturned.

A survey taken by the Pew Research Center showed the abortion acceptance rate from people of New York. 64% supports legal abortion in almost/all cases; 32% think it should be illegal in almost/all cases and 4% don’t have an opinion about it (this data was taken from a 1966 people sample size.

In our own congressional district Congresswoman Grace Meng’s office responded to our questions on abortion by saying: “ Grace meng is a pro- choice member of Congress and she believes that women should have the rights to choose that if they want to.

Many people in America take for granted a right that is constantly being attacked by the government, the president, different parties, organizations and laws that are being passed by different states. Awareness is needed in order to protect the abortion right, which is becoming a hard reality. The time women can decide have an abortion on themselves is the first trimester which is from the first week to the 12 week, a pregnant women only have a very short time to make that decision but the government are try to take away this very short time that women can make decision or make a pregnant hard to make their decision by some of the regulation. The government of the United States and the many states make those regulations because they just want to ban abortion, they do not care about women’s health.