Everyone knows the 2012 Presidential Election is just around the corner. We see the propaganda, have heard the speeches, and of course have been shown their platforms. One topic that candidates just don’t seem to let go of is that of abortion. They are the perfect example of persistence. In 2008, the proposition that sparked much debate was California’s Prop 4, which stated that minors would need to wait 48 hours to undergo an abortion procedure. During the waiting time, the doctor would notify their parents or legal guardians. The proposition didn’t pass that year, much to the relief of thousands of girls under 18.
This proposition is just one of many that have sparked controversy throughout the nation. Eyes and ears are directed toward the candidates, judging which person is pro-life or pro-choice. And it seems that 2012 is the year of retaliation against everything and anything that supports abortion. The level of protests in front of abortion clinics have increased dramatically. It’s not illegal to protest outside a building, as long as you don’t disturb the peace. Still, when the protestors start harassing the girls who want to enter the abortion clinic and physically block them from receiving the clinics’ services, that’s when it’s a problem. It’s understandable that living in a predominantly Christian nation (even though we don’t have an official religion), abortion is not easily accepted. Religion definitely plays a huge factor in its acceptance. And when you have a bunch of people telling you you’re going to hell for the decision you’re making…yea, it can take a toll on you.
Because all of the sudden droves of people against abortion, many mainstream hospitals have ceased to provide abortions. Doctors who wish to practice in hospitals are not required to learn the procedures anymore. If anything, some doctors have even gone so far as to express that they won’t perform an abortion because it goes against their consciousness (though they vowed to serve their patient, regardless of the stake). Threats are in abundance. Abortion clinics are suddenly arenas for violence. Rocks are thrown into the windows; doctors are driven from the hometowns/cities in which they work, ostracized and marked with the “scarlet letter”. Besides scaring the doctors/nurses and the women, the procedures are becoming much more expensive. Fees are being added to random things, such as fees for making an appointment, fees for using a certain tool, etc. What they don’t realize is that at such a vulnerable and unstable point in their lives, women will abort if they are desperate to do so. Meaning that if they find an alternative (say an herb, an illegal abortion, or worse hitting herself), they will choose that. I’d like a presidential candidate to explain to me how he is protecting these women, if all she’ll feel will be despair and overwhelming frustration. C’mon…it’s the 21st century. We women are quite capable of taking care of ourselves, thank you very much. The whole “fatherly” approach is a bit overrated.
The Republican candidates have tried their best to present themselves as 100% anti-abortion…pro-life to the end. Now, it may be that they are making themselves appear that way to ensure votes (since their main voting pool comes from rich, Christian citizens), but from the looks of it, it would be difficult if the Republicans won presidency to ensure protection of rights for women. Don’t take my word for it, just look at the changes that are starting to appear across the country, and the presidential election hasn’t even passed…
Ohio tried to pass the “heartbeat bill,” wanting to define a fetus as a person once a heartbeat was heard. A heartbeat can usually be heard after the 5th/6th week of pregnancy. So, if the bill were to be passed, it would make it illegal to obtain an abortion after the 6th week. Ironically, politicians and pro-life campaigners believe that abortion is no easy decision and that a woman should take her time to see whether she truly wants to abort her fetus or keep it. And yet, somehow giving women 6 weeks to make a life-altering decision seems to be the best way to go?
In Texas, women are now required to have a “transvaginal ultrasound”. Not only is this procedure invasive (ever heard of the right to privacy lawmakers? You kind of created the phrase), but it forces the woman to hear the fetus’s heartbeat as well as see it. I’m for giving women all of the information they need in order for them to make an informed consent. But, when it’s done so in a way to guilt trip them into keeping the child, I disagree. It needs to be the woman who chooses to keep the baby, not the doctor. The doctor isn’t the one who’s going to raise the child…she is. She needs to believe she is prepared to handle the responsibilities of raising a baby, not scared into motherhood.
Oklahoma tried to define the “personhood” of a fetus to mean that it was a person from the moment it was conceived. This is wrong on so many levels, but the main reason it goes against the law and against the right of privacy of women is because it goes against Roe v. Wade. The case has NEVER been overturned, which means that what the court declared in 1973 is still applicable in the year 2012. It does not state that a fetus is a person at its conception; the court only established trimesters, declaring when a women could abort (between conception and 24 weeks) or couldn’t abort (after 24 weeks).
The states are becoming much more active in the decision making process of abortion-related laws, and it seems as if they are taking into their own hands what they consider to be best for women in their state. I fear that soon the federal government will be challenged by the states, and if the federal government doesn’t do anything to at least ease the tension between pro-life and pro-choice advocates, political chaos will come quickly. What’s worse, it won’t affect the politicians; it will affect the lives of those women. Women, who like you and me, are just trying to make a life for themselves. The road they are taking may not be seen as perfect or “right” or the best, but it’s the road they have chosen. We have to respect that.
The Woman Behind the Legal World Section:
Christina Ontiveros is an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. She is double majoring in Legal Studies and Anthropology, and is an excellent and dedicated student. She is passionate and loyal; we can all count ourselves lucky that one day she might just be our lawyer!