Every month it seems there is a new restriction on abortion trying to be passed in the United States. Roe v. Wade in 1972 made abortion legal in the United States as a whole, with individual states allowed to pass laws with rules and regulations that can restrict abortion in certain cases. The goal for many anti-abortion advocates and politicians is to actually make abortion illegal in the United States.
There are currently several countries around the world where abortion is illegal. While most countries allow abortion in order to save the mother’s life, only 30 percent allow abortion on request. Countries in South America and Africa tend to have the most restrictive abortion policies. These regions also happen to be poorer, have lower life expectancies, and lower quality of life. Abortion is not allowed for any reason in 14 African countries. However, these developing nations in Africa and Latin America actually are having most of the world’s abortions, but they are happening illegally and unsafely. These unsafe abortions result in 1 out of 8 maternal deaths across the globe. It is estimated that in Guatemala and Mexico, 67 percent of the poverty striken who seek out an unsafe abortion experience medical complications.
What’s happening in these countries just proves what pro-choice activists have been saying for decades: people will keep having abortions even if it is not legal, because they have to. Nearly half of the abortions happening worldwide are illegal, unsafe ones.
The concept and procedure of abortion is nothing new. Abortifacients have been dated back several thousand years in Egyptian, Greek, and Native American cultures, among many more. The earliest written record of abortion has been found about 3000 years BCE in China. Abortion has always been happening, and it will continue to be happening whether it’s legal or not. So it is in the best interest of humans everywhere for abortion to be safe, accessible, and legal.
Anti-abortion advocates often like to act like abortion is not safe and is detrimental for the pregnant party, but in fact, it is one of the safest medical procedures around. What is really hurting pregnant people are the medical complications that occur when someone tries to get an abortion through clandestine means. Contrary to popular anti-choice belief, the high majority of abortion-related deaths are not linked to legal abortions given by official medical clinics. Instead the deaths are actually happening in developing countries where abortion is illegal, leaving the pregnant party no choice but to give themselves unsafe abortions, or go to back-alley clinics who work outwith the law (aka without proper funding and regulation).
When we are seeing such high maternal and child mortality rates, it is clear that more reproductive freedom is needed, not less. Not just for the advancement of human rights, but for the earth as well, for overpopulation is one of our biggest environmental problems right now.
We are at a vital point in regards to reproductive rights; we can either keep moving forward or fall very far back. If anti-abortion activists in the United States have it their way in years to come, then we’ll start seeing a lot more news headlines about 11-year-olds giving birth to their rapist’s baby, homeless teen mothers, or people going back to coathanger abortions and nearly killing themselves. We already have headlines like these, we don’t need any more.