Opinion | Susan Knopf: A woman’s right to choose
For the Record
More than 60% of Americans favor a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy in most if not all cases, according to a Pew Research study conducted just two months ago.
Anti-choice politics, and the Politico-leaked Supreme Court draft opinion, appear to be a case of the tail wagging the dog, or more seriously, a coup by the religious right, depriving Americans of Constitutional rights.
Let’s start with Summit County. There’s no safe legal abortion services available here. That’s due to the dominance of Centura — a Catholic-owned health care network. The Community Care Clinic receives federal funds and thus is prohibited from directing people to abortion services.
For the record, Colorado was one of the first states to legalize abortion in 1967, six years before the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade.
Yet a woman’s right to choose has been consistently under attack. Cobalt, a Colorado pro-choice organization, reports defending Colorado women against five anti-choice ballot measures, since 2000.
The Colorado State legislature passed HB22-1279, the Reproductive Health Equity Act, last month. The act protects reproductive rights, and states “a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights.” Connecticut recently passed a law protecting their citizens from out-of-state prosecution and lawsuits.
The Guttmacher Institute reports 16 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to protect abortion rights, while other states are passing laws to criminalize it.
Colorado’s long-term support of women may not be enough. Amy Davidson Sorkin writes for The New Yorker that Supreme Court Justice Alito’s opinion “offers a blueprint for a future finding that the Constitution not only doesn’t protect abortion but prohibits it.”
USA Today reports Latin American countries which once criminalized abortion are now legalizing it. The United States may soon be medically and culturally backward compared to Mexico, Columbia, Argentina and Chile. Abortion is a legal right throughout the developed world.
The biggest issue is: Making abortion illegal won’t stop abortions. It just stops safe abortions. Criminalization of reproductive rights creates an economic burden for those who can least afford to travel and take off time from work to get health care services.
People will continue to have abortions. The National Institutes of Health reports some 68,000 women die annually of unsafe abortion procedures. A 2021 study “found the legalization of abortion reduced maternal mortality among black women by 30-40%.” Thus abortion criminalization isn’t pro-life — it precipitates maternal death.
Abortions rates have been going down, as efforts to make abortions more expensive and less available have continued. According to Wikipedia, in 1982, Colorado had more than three times as many abortion clinics open as it did in 2014.
You might be fooled in Summit County. There is a resource center that offers free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. No pregnancy termination is available.
What’s at stake right now is not just a woman’s right to choose, but a constitutional right to privacy. Even if you are a conservative applauding this chapter, do you really believe you have no constitutional right of privacy?
The preamble of the Constitution specifically states the intention “to secure liberty to ourselves.” Privacy is the most intimate form of liberty. Doesn’t liberty include control over our own bodies?
The Bill of Rights states there will be no establishment of religion. Jews believe life is created at birth. The Pew study confirms those who most adamantly protest abortion are white ecumenical Christians, and only 21% of them believe abortion should be illegal in all cases. No other religious group is so unified against abortion rights. Outlawing abortion is the establishment of religion.
Additionally, we cannot deny nor tolerate the depressing facts. Current Supreme Court justices purposely misrepresented themselves in their confirmation hearings. Justices Alito, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Barret, and Thomas all stated that Roe v. Wade is established precedent, stare decisis, and they intended to follow precedent. How does this affect the balance and integrity of the court? My recommendation: Add justices to rebalance the court to reflect the beliefs of the American people.
Karen Middleton, president of Cobalt recommends, “Channel your energy in two ways – support local abortion rights organizations and abortion funds. Stay engaged for the midterms – local and state legislative races, and races for seats like state Attorney General, make a huge difference for communities.”
For more information on this topic see my column, “Vote ‘no’ on Proposition 115, the 22-week abortion ban.”
Susan Knopf’s column “For the Record” publishes biweekly on Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf lives in Silverthorne. She is a certified ski instructor and an award-winning journalist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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