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  • Emily G.

Women's Healthcare: Criminalizing Women's Bodies

One of the most notable policy changes in reproduction healthcare has taken place this past June when the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. As highlighted on the map of the U.S. shown below, 13 states have a full ban against abortion in affect already, and it is predicted that more will follow. Overturning Roe v. Wade, and fully banning abortion in some states, has furthered the idea that women have abortions because they do not want a child yet, it is much more complicated in most cases.

Photo Credit: The New York Times

Reproductive healthcare is essential for all women in one way or another. Abortion care is one aspect of reproductive healthcare, whether it be used to access preemptive measures such as contraception, or to end a pregnancy stemming from rape or incest. Becoming pregnant means something different to everyone. In the best of cases, a pregnancy will go just as planned, while on the other hand there could be life-threatening complications.

What many people don't know is that Roe v. Wade protects more than just the right to get an abortion, as it also protects the right to personal privacy. By overturning such a landmark case, the Court’s ruling has put control of a woman’s body in the hands of the government, thus causing it to become criminalizable. Nonetheless, this ruling will not put an end to abortions, but it will put an end to safe abortions.

“Where abortion is illegal or highly restricted, women resort to unsafe means to end unwanted pregnancies, including self-inflicted abdominal and bodily trauma, ingestion of dangerous chemicals, self-medication with a variety of drugs, and reliance on unqualified abortion providers.”

Abortion providers will face legal action if they violate the law. For example, in Indiana this means they could face “a criminal penalty of up to six years imprisonment and a fine of $10,000.” Further, some women who do fall under the small category of eligibility for an abortion (under S.B. 1) still may be unable to attain one. If the government decides that a physician’s opinion is wrong, as far as if a woman needs an abortion to save her life, the physician could be prosecuted and potentially lose their license.

“The people making the laws are not doctors, and they don’t understand the implications of all of these laws.”

Abortion providers have to maneuver through increasingly difficult laws and codes as a result of the new abortion laws. There are two options: “Intervene, and you risk violating the law and being sued, losing your medical license, even going to jail. Don't intervene and you could be risking your patient's life, and potentially being sued by the patient or family.” In spite of this impossible choice they are faced with, most abortion providers continue to support the right to an abortion alongside the public.

Women’s bodies are being criminalized because their constitutional right to abortion is no longer seen as essential healthcare. Limiting abortion care impacts more than just the women who've became pregnant accidentally, yet every aspect is criminalized no matter the specifics of the situation.

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