Opinion: Restrictions Decrease the Safety of Abortions but Politicians Continue Writing These Laws

Protesters hold signs as they rally in support of Planned Parenthood and pro-choice and to protest a state decision that would effectively halt abortions by revoking the center's license to perform the procedure, near the Old Courthouse in St. Louis, Missouri, May 30, 2019.        
(Photo credit SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP/Getty Images

Protesters hold signs as they rally in support of Planned Parenthood and pro-choice and to protest a state decision that would effectively halt abortions by revoking the center’s license to perform the procedure, near the Old Courthouse in St. Louis, Missouri, May 30, 2019. (Photo credit SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

McKenna Christy, Contributing Writer, Columbus OH

The opinions of this article are mine and do not represent the opinions of Teens for Teen Health

A threat to Ohio abortion providers: Senate Bill 27 passed in the House of Representatives with a vote of 60-35 on Dec. 3. The bill would require patients receiving a surgical abortion to take responsibility of the “final disposition of fetal remains,” more specifically, if the remains should be cremated or buried and the location of their disposition. Governor Mike Dewine will decide whether or not to enact the law, which originated in the Ohio State Legislature, as it already passed in the Senate.

This is just one of the many attempts that politicians have made in 2020 to restrict citizen’s access to abortions. These pieces of legislation are complicated and mislead people into a bubble of unawareness over what abortion care is available. “I think a lot of people that have grown up in an environment where they only hear about restrictions think that abortion isn’t even legal anymore,” said Dr. Deborah Glupzynski-a family physician in New York City in an interview.

However, the facts remain, despite the tireless efforts to regulate abortion access across the United States: abortions are available; they are only easier to receive in some places more than others. Research also supports that abortion restricting legislation cannot be proven medically reasonable due to safety concerns, and cannot be justified because they invalidate the choices patients make with their doctors. Simply put, patients do not consult with politicians individually about their health. 

The 2018 study from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) confirmed the safety of abortions. This study, “Abortion is Safe,” was conducted by a panel of 13 experts and found that “less than a fraction of one percent of medication abortion patients have experienced complications.”  In 2014, 45 percent of abortions up to nine weeks’ gestation were medication abortions. The moment abortions become unsafe is when legislative restrictions are enacted, even if some may seem to provide more safety measures. In reality, abortions are already safe and these are prohibitors not contributors to a safer culture where patients and women are allowed to receive basic health care. 

The court case June Medical Services v. Russo is an example of how some government officials do more harm than good for patients seeking abortions. June Medical Services challenged Louisiana’s Act 620: a physician performing an abortion must have “acting admitting privileges” at a hospital 30 miles away from where the abortion is being performed.  The final decision was that the law “imposed an undue burden on the right of their patients to receive an abortion.” Although this decision sets a precedent for other abortion regulations, like Roe v. Wade, politicians continue to write laws that go against patient’s safety. 

“You can put as many barriers as you can possibly conceive of and make it as difficult as possible for people to access abortion care, but it doesn’t take the need away. People are always going to seek out this care… people have made thoughtful decisions about their lives, their bodies, their families, maybe the children they already have and they’re coming to this decision after a lot of thought,” said Dr. Glupzynski. 

Since abortion care will always remain a portion of healthcare that patients seek out, it is unfortunate there are people living in places with zero access near them. “Abortion is Safe” reported that 53 percent of women in the Midwest live in a county without an abortion clinic and 49 percent of women in the South live in a county without an abortion clinic. Patients seeking abortion access may be conflicted on where to go if they live in an area with no clinic or abortion providing service.  Also, if they rely on Medicaid, there is another obstacle in their way: The Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment has been in place since 1976 and “has blocked federal Medicaid funding for abortion services,” according to Planned Parenthood. The organization also made note that 15.6 million women, from ages 19-64, have Medicaid, and that establishing the amendment furthers the inequity in our country’s health care system and more specifically inequalities rooted in racism and sexism as people of color are the majority of citizens enrolled in Medicaid. 

“Every year this Amendment has been added to the annual appropriations bill and every year it kind of goes through. This coming year we have the opportunity to finally have Hyde not added to the appropriations bill,” mentioned Dr. Glupzynski, informing me there is a chance to remove this barrier to abortion care. 

There are opportunities for abortions to become a little more accessible. The Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) is a piece of federal legislation that would protect any access to abortion through forbidding any “medically unnecessary restrictions that apply to no similar medical care,” according to Act for Women. Another law introduced to congress in 2019 is the Each Woman Act, this law would give every patient coverage for abortion, no matter how much they make. Also, Dr. Glupzynski mentioned that the act “addresses how some state Medicaid’s programs cover abortion care and how other state Medicaid programs don’t.”

These two laws deserve support and the Hyde Amendment should be removed from the appropriations bill in the best interest of women and their health. Abortion, which should plainly be considered health care, has become too political of a topic when doctors, physicians, and nurses are the people with the most knowledge to determine what is safe for their patients. Even though this is clear, between 2008 and 2014, states have created 288 new abortion restrictions, according to the Guttmacher Institute.  Unfortunately the number of restrictions only seems to be growing. People should not be denied access to what is best for their health as it steals from their ability to live with respect for themselves.

 

 

“I hold in very high regard providing people with the opportunity to just exist in a dignified fashion. I think we all can agree that we want to live in this world in a dignified way, and be respected by the people we come into contact with.” – Dr. Glupzynski