Abortion has unsettlingly become one of the most polarizing issues among American voters. According to a 2019 poll taken by the Pew Research Center, 61% of U.S. adults believe abortion must be legal in all or most cases while 38% believe it must be illegal in all or most cases.
Despite the United States being classified as a developed country, abortion care is still incredibly difficult to access. This difficulty has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as multiple state governors are classifying abortion as a “nonessential” service, causing many women to resort to extreme measures in order to terminate their pregnancy.
The 2020 election will be a determining factor on whether or not abortion rights will continue to progress. Regardless, it is illogical to allow politicians to make decisions on medical procedures, and therefore, abortion should not be regulated by the government.
Several anti-abortion rights politicians have used the global pandemic as an excuse to deny women the constitutional right to an abortion. Recently, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, claimed pregnancy is never life threatening while demanding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ban the abortion pill. The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention directly contradicts this statement as more than 700 women die every year due to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth in the U.S.
Most politicians seeking to place restrictions on abortion have no medical background or experience in reproductive health care. According to the American Medical Association, physicians, not politicians, should be making decisions about medical procedures. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that politicians will stop placing strict regulations on abortion, unless Americans elect presidential candidate Joe Biden, who has vowed to support the medical procedure in all circumstances, in November.
Under President Donald Trump's administration, Planned Parenthood has been defunded several times and Title X funding has been removed from several reproductive health care clinics. Additionally, the Supreme Court sided with the Trump administration in Trump v. Pennsylvania, ruling employers can refuse to offer no-cost birth control to women, which was previously required by the Affordable Care Act. This ruling was nonsensical as access to contraception has statistically proven to reduce the number of abortions. According to a study from Washington University, providing women access to free contraceptives reduced abortion rates by 62% to 78%.
Vice President Mike Pence, who also served as Indiana’s 50th governor, recently visited Gateway Women’s Care, a pregnancy and sexual health center in Raleigh, North Carolina. The center opposes abortion rights and falsely claims abortion can lead to breast cancer. Health care providers such as Planned Parenthood are forced to give similarly misleading information, including the false notion that chemical abortions can be reversed. This harmful misinformation, which has been countlessly refuted by science and doctors, is another reason why politicians should not be qualified to interfere with medical procedures.
As mentioned previously, abortion rights under our current Republican government have been greatly set back. If Democrats take back the White House in November, it is possible that our government will finally rely on medical professionals to make decisions about reproductive health care and not on politicians who make laws based on their own belief system.
As a woman and a college student in Indiana, which is a largely conservative state, the results of the upcoming presidential election are incredibly important to me in terms of abortion rights. It is important for students like me who are affected by laws on reproductive health care to understand the importance of voting for a candidate that will uphold our right to an abortion, as 44% of women who have abortions are between the ages of 15 and 24, many of whom are college students.
When politicians place strict regulations on abortion, it does not reduce abortion or protect women. In fact, America experienced a dangerous pattern of women going through unsafe abortions before the monumental Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. From 1940 to 1954, more than 7,000 cases of unsafe abortions were treated at the Bellevue Hospital in New York City.
The amount of miseducation around the issue of abortion is difficult for me to comprehend as someone who is so passionate about reproductive rights. But until politicians remove themselves from decision-making around medical procedures, we must elect leaders that will begin to rely on health care providers who will make decisions based on science, not on conviction.
Rama Sardar (she/her) is a freshman studying media. She aspires to become a film director and a screenwriter.