Post-election, women fear for the future of reproductive rights

Illustration by Lauren Johnson

Monica Alarcon-Najarro, Contributing Writer

A woman’s right to choose what she does with her body should not be decided by a room full of men with powerful titles. Our right to choose to have an abortion is both a freedom and a privilege.

Women have fought for this right for decades, going back to the era of the second wave of feminism in the 1960s, through protests about sexuality and reproductive rights. The second wave of feminism resulted in the landmark case Roe v. Wade, which protects women’s constitutional right to have safe and legal abortions.

For Roe v. Wade to be overturned in Texas with the Texas Senate Bill 8, society is taking 10 steps back from the progress we accomplished. The bill limits the ability for places like Planned Parenthood to provide abortion care for women over the six-week mark of their pregnancy, the earliest point at which a fetal heartbeat can sometimes be detected, according to the American Pregnancy Association.

Roe v. Wade divided pregnancy into three trimesters, the first being where abortion was entirely at the patient’s discretion; the second trimester where state governments can regulate it for health reasons, but not ban it; and the third trimester, where states can regulate abortions based on health concerns and regulate medical practices that provide abortion services. 

This is significantly different from a 6-week mark. A trimester is usually between 12 to 14 weeks in pregnancy. 

“Weeks four through seven are when most women discover they are pregnant,” stated the American Pregnancy Association

As the new governor, Glenn Youngkin, takes over office in January, my fears lie within my ability to get abortion care if I ever needed it. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott signed the law into place and the Supreme Court failed to block it. This means that it is possible for Youngkin to do the same.

In a video from the Undercurrent, a “grassroots political web-show” hosted by journalist Lauren Windsor, Youngkin identified his stance on abortion as being “staunchly, unabashedly pro-life.”

“We got to stop using taxpayer money for abortions, . . . we got to stop allowing abortions all the way up until the last week before birth,” Youngkin said in the video posted on the Undercurrent’s YouTube channel.

According to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 1% of reported abortions took place after the 21st week in 2018.

When pressed about intent to push for anti-abortion bills like in Texas, Youngkin said that upon being elected and gaining a majority in the House of Representatives, he would “start going on offense” against “radical abortion policies.” 

It frightens me that he will pull out a bill to stop abortions during his term as governor in Virginia, because of what he says in the video.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, Virginia’s current restrictions on abortion include requiring a parent’s permission for a minor to receive an abortion, and that an abortion can be performed during the third trimester if a patient’s health or life is endangered. In addition, abortion is also covered in insurance policies for public employees only in cases of life endangerment, rape, incest or fetal impairment, and the same follows under the Affordable Care Act, according to the brief by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Women who are raped, are a victim of incest or have their life endangered from pregnancy should have the choice to abort their pregnancy. Furthermore, not everyone has the financial or personal freedom to take care of a child.

Even in the case of carrying pregnancies to term, children are left in foster care waiting to be adopted if the mother decides to not go through with abortion. Instead of bringing children into this world – that will most likely be put up for adoption if not aborted – people should consider adopting kids in foster care.

When it comes to officials in power, governors such as Youngkin can end up deciding whether women are allowed to get abortions or not. This is why it’s extremely important for people to vote. We can’t be a repeat of what Texas has done to limit abortions in their state. Women should be allowed to make their own choice for their own body and not have their bodies be regulated by men in high government positions.

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