Abortion is one of the most contentious and divisive subjects in the US. The American people are divided deeply on this issue. On the one hand, there are some Americans who feel that abortion should be legal to protect the rights of women to make their own choices about their reproductive health. On the other hand, many Americans feel that abortion cheapens and violates the sanctity of human life. These divisions are reflected in the different laws that different states across the US have adopted to regulate abortion.
What is Abortion?
To understand why abortion is so controversial and divisive, one needs to understand the essence of this procedure. Basically, abortion refers to a procedure that pregnant women undergo to terminate their pregnancy (Medicine Plus, 2020). Various interventions are available to carry out this procedure. For example, women are usually issued with medicine that triggers the pregnancy termination (Medicine Plus, 2020). In some instances, surgeries are carried out. It should be understood that in states with restrictive abortion laws, women are often forced to resort to dangerous methods that can result in serious complications or even death.
The Cost of Abortion
The costs that women incur when they procure abortions vary greatly from one facility to another and among different states. According to Planned Parenthood, the organization working to protect the right of women to choose, the costs that women pay range from nil to $1000. This wide variation is explained by various factors. These factors include the type of insurance that a woman has, where she leaves, and the form of abortion for which they opt (Planned Parenthood, 2020). For example, women whose health insurance does not cover abortion can expect to pay higher out-of-pocket amounts. On the other hand, women living in states that support abortion rights often pay less and receive greater support when they seek this procedure.
Number of Abortions in the US
In the recent past, it has been noted that the number of abortions being performed in the US has been on a downward trajectory. This drop is significant as it highlights the impact of various policies that the country has implemented. For example, it can be argued that the low number of abortions is the result of the increasingly restrictive policies that the nation has adopted. The most recent data for the number of abortions in the US is for 2017. In this year, 862,000 abortions occurred in the country (Associated Press, 2019). This figure represents a significant decline from previous years. Projections indicate that the rate of abortions will continue to fall.
Alabama Abortion Law
Alabama is among the states in the US that have the most restrictive and stringent abortion laws. The Human Life Protection Act is among the laws that the state has enacted (Law, 2019). At the center of this act is the classification of performing an abortion as a felony. This means that practitioners found carrying out abortions could face charges (Law, 2019). Furthermore, the act limits the scenarios when a woman is permitted to have an abortion. According to the act, abortions are only authorized when the woman’s health is in danger and if the fetus has been found to have an anomaly that would cause death right after birth (Law, 2019). It should be understood that legal battles have frustrated the implementation of the Human Life Protection Act.
Georgia Abortion Law
Georgia is another state whose abortion laws have been described as restrictive. One of the major laws that Georgia has enacted is one that recognizes fetuses as humans as soon as a heartbeat can be detected (Law, 2019). Essentially, the law prohibits physicians against performing abortions when after conducting an examination, they detect a heartbeat. However, Georgia law provides for some exceptions. For example, when the pregnancy resulted from incest or rape, a woman may terminate it (Law, 2019). However, the termination can only occur within 20 weeks of the pregnancy. Congenital and chromosomal anomalies in the fetus are another basis that women are allowed to cite for procuring abortions (Law, 2019). Despite these exceptions, it should be understood that on the whole, the Georgia law remains restrictive.
New York Abortion Law
Unlike Georgia and Alabama which have adopted anti-abortion laws, the laws in New York are more liberal and aligned with the right of women to choose. The Reproductive Health Act is the primary law that governs abortions in the state (Pierpoint, 2019). Among other things, this act recognizes abortion rights and lifts the criminalization of abortion. Furthermore, this act did away with some restrictions that had been imposed on the circumstances when abortions are permitted. Thanks to the law, women in the state can have abortions up to 24 weeks into their pregnancies (Pierpoint, 2019). The Reproductive Health Act has generated intense debate with some anti-abortion groups describing it as an erosion of protections for unborn children.
Why Abortion Should be Legalized
Across the US, there is a movement that is calling for abortion to be legalized. There are various legitimate and compelling reason why the US needs to lift the ban on abortions. Among these reasons include the fact that anti-abortion laws fail to recognize the reproductive health rights of women and that it discourages physicians against addressing the reproductive health needs of women. Perhaps the most compelling reason for decriminalizing abortion is that public opinion on this issue has shifted dramatically. For example, a 2019 survey determined that as many as 61% of Americans feel that abortion should be legal across the country (Lipka & Gramlich, 2019). Policymakers and legislators should honor public opinion by making abortion legal.
In conclusion, abortion continues to cause divisions among the American people. However, data shows that more Americans are now in support of abortion. Such states as Georgia and Alabama trail behind other states that have inched closer to legalizing abortion. On the other hand, New York is among the states that are leading the nation in protecting the rights of women. There is a need for all states to hold discussions about the future of abortion laws.
Associated Press. (2019). Number of abortions in U.S. drops to lowest since they became legal nationwide, report finds. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/number-abortions-u-s-drops-lowest-they-became-legal-nationwide-n1055726
Law, T. (2019). Here are the details of the abortion legislation in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and elsewhere. Time. https://time.com/5591166/state-abortion-laws-explained/
Lipka, M., & Gramlich, J. (2019). 5 facts about the abortion debate in America. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/08/30/facts-about-abortion-debate-in-america/
Medicine Plus. (2020). Abortion. https://medlineplus.gov/abortion.html
Pierpoint, G. (2019). New York abortion law: Why are so many people talking about it? BBC. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46994583
Planned Parenthood. (2020). How much does an abortion cost? https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/ask-experts/how-much-does-an-abortion-cost