The last two decades has shown the public falter on the legality of abortion rights across the United States. Same-sex marriage and adoption rights, the acceptance of divorce and single-parent households, and more recently the legalization of marijuana have all seen a shift to the left, often a substantial movement. Yet when it comes to abortion Americans are more divided.
According to a Gallup poll released at the end of May, this is the first time in around five years since Americans significantly described themselves as “pro-choice”. Yet the heights of the mid-1990s are still yet to be achieved.
The last lot of years has seen a more divided attitude. Since President Obama’s 2008 election the number of pro-lifers has increased, coinciding with the country’s first pro-choice leader since President Bill Clinton.
Gallup’s revelation was concurred in a FOX News poll from April. When asked, 49 per cent of interviewees considered themselves pro-choice compared to 44 per cent being pro-life. The question, “On the issue of abortion, would you say you are more pro-life or more pro-choice?” shows the majority regularly changes between the two options.
Everything’s bigger in Texas, except abortion clinics
Recent years have seen a bleak run of laws complicating the ease for women to seek an abortion.
Gail Collins of the New York Times wrote about the significant drop in abortion clinics across the Lone Star state. After the state legislature passed a law in 2013 which required all clinics to be equipped to the same level as a hospital the pressures of the bill meant many could not meet the demands to remain open. Depicted as an act to ensure the health and safety of the women who are patients of these health centers, despite the “relatively simple procedure with a stupendously low history of complications”, the number of abortion clinics now stands at 18.
Eighteen clinics in Texas. With 25 million residents and an area larger than many European nations like the United Kingdom and France.
For many women, namely those in middle-class brackets and beyond, this is more of an inconvenience than a major issue. Should they have to travel to Houston, Dallas or San Antonio? No. But it’s a huge difficulty. In some circumstances it’s not too much of an imposition to even head to New York or California. Other medical procedures require such journeys. This is just another one of those.
Yet it’s those who aren’t in this bracket. Those who don’t even own a car and who cannot travel to a neighboring city to have an abortion. Low income women in states with tough abortion laws are turning to the internet to perform DIY abortions.
After discovering she was pregnant by an ex-boyfriend, Jennie Linn McCormack of Idaho bought and ingested pills she bought online. With three children already and a monthly pay check of around $200, Ms. McCormack faced a tough decision. She was later taken to court by an Idaho prosecutor on charges which could have imprisoned her for five years.
Fortunately for Ms. McCormack the case was dismissed. But not all women are quite as lucky.
There are many suits which resulted in women being fined or thrown in prison for charges which include manslaughter.
Pro-choice doesn’t have to mean pro-abortion
With the tide turning for pro-choice, the issue will present itself once more as a key debate item in the upcoming election in 2016. And with Hillary Clinton as a front runner this is more or less guaranteed. Yet despite the Roe v Wade ruling coming up 42 years ago it’s still a tirelessly contested item.
A majority of people in the country label themselves as pro-choice but that doesn’t mean everyone is for limitless abortions to be used as a late form of contraception.
Abortions are legal in the United States, yet in many cases it is easier for women to enact their right to a firearm than it is to deciding what she does to her own body. America is a country proud of its so-called promise for freedom of choice, but it has left tens of millions of women unable to choose a safe procedure and environment to an abortion. Those who cannot afford to pay for expensive treatment or who cannot afford to go elsewhere are left to make a huge decision: raise a child she cannot pay for and suffer through a tough nine months without the promise of government sponsored maternity leave, or face a dangerous, illegal method to remove the pregnancy.
Being pro-choice, whether you’re a man or a woman does not mean there will be a sudden surge in abortions across the nation, going out to a clinic on a Friday between cocktails at happy hour. What it ensures is the option within a safe environment. Should they be restricted to some degree? Yes. It should not be an easily accessible option. It is a tough decision with incredible consequences regardless of the choice.