A Common Misconception About the Pro-Choice Stance

On May 15, Alabama lawmakers passed a law that prohibits abortions in the state at every stage of pregnancy. It includes exceptions for women whose health is at serious risk, but does not include exceptions for victims of rape or incest. In line with the current holding in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which ruled that the government can regulate abortion as long as it does not place an “undue burden” on a woman, the Alabama law would punish doctors, not patients. Doctors would be sentenced to up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion, which in many cases is more years than a rapist would serve.

According to Kay Ivey, the female Alabama governor who signed the bill into law, the law is almost unenforceable and the state does not plan to enforce it in the way it is set out in writing. Instead, the law is designed to prompt an appeal to the Supreme Court that its supporters hope will overturn the holding in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in 1973 under the right to privacy.

According to NPR, before Roe v. Wade, 20 to 25% of pregnancies ended in abortion. These illegal abortions were incredibly unsafe. Methods included the ingestion of poison, purposeful physical injury, and the usage of household instruments like coat hangers to induce miscarriage. According to the NGO Guttmacher Institute, 200 women died from unsafe and illegal abortions in 1965 alone. According to another study by the Institute, 24 percent of American women reaching adulthood since 1973 will have an abortion by age 45. This shows that the legalization of abortion does not increase the rate of abortions, although it makes them safer for women. Therefore, the common conception that increased the availability of abortions leads to more women having abortions is flawed. The Alabama law will lead us back to a time when abortions were deadlier, not less common.

More broadly, the pro-choice position does not advocate for increased abortions, but rather for the availability of greater choice for pregnant people. Abortion is not an isolated issue. It affects many other areas like the foster care and healthcare systems. According to the Boston Globe, the number of foster homes approved to house more children than mandated by regulators has doubled since 2014, and the number of children entering the system has spiked by 20% in the last five years. If abortion were outlawed, mothers who are not prepared to care for a child would be forced to put their children into this broken and unstable system with little hope for adoption. One thing that would definitely keep abortions from increasing is more funding for women’s health clinics that provide accessible birth control. Therefore, defunding Planned Parenthood is not the answer to decreasing abortion, in fact, it may lead to more unplanned pregnancies, and lock women into caring for a child they are not prepared for or able to take care of.

Whether you would have an abortion or not, the legalization of abortion not only gives women this choice but also saves lives. Banning abortion will not rid the United States of abortion, but force it underground and onto the black market.