An Issue of Women’s Reproductive Rights
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that men and women are created equal (Elizabeth Cady Stanton). In America this has been the basis of what our nation stands for. It is stated that every citizen has the right to equality that shall not be stripped away, in many cases that is not true. Whether man or women you should possess the same rights, but more often than not the women’s rights are taken away. There are many instances in the United States where man and women are not created with the same equality they supposedly have. Women are suffering discrimination for something they are born with and cannot control. In different countries it used to be frowned upon to have a female child because they seemed “worthless” or could not do the worth that a male child would be able to do. In places like China the majority of children put up for adoption are girls because of the one-child policy most families would put their little girls up for adoption compared to their boys even if the boy was younger. These numbers have however changed in the last recent years, but the adoption rate of girls still out numbers the boys, 86% to 14% (“International Adoption”, 2018). This brings me to the topic at hand. Men and women have equal rights as stated previously yet women’s reproductive rights continue to be stripped away by man, for they truly have no idea what a woman need. I will discuss the reproductive rights women are continuing to fight for in America as well as how women’s reproductive rights are in different countries.
A women’s body is a beautiful place, it is able to create a life and carry it until it is fully developed and ready to come into this world. With this though a mother should still have a say what happens to her body. Pro-life and Pro-choice members have been having the argument whether a woman has the right to abort a child developing inside of her or if she is stripping away that child’s rights. Pro-life stands against abortion, they believe that the government has an obligation to preserve all human life, regardless of intent, viability, or quality-of-life- concerns (“A Look at What Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Supporters Believe.”, 2017 ) whereas Pro-choice believes that individuals have unlimited autonomy with respect to their own reproductive system, as long as they don’t breach the autonomy of others (“A Look at What Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Supporters Believe.”, 2017 ). In the case of abortion pro-life argues that even a nonviable, undeveloped human life is sacred and must be protected by the government. Pro-choice argues that in pregnancies before the point of viability, when the fetus cannot live outside the womb, the government doesn’t have a right to impede a women’s decision to terminate a pregnancy (“An Overview of Abortion Laws.”, 2018).
There are two types of abortions a woman can under go. There is the medical abortion also known as the abortion pill, or there is the surgical abortion. With the abortion pill it can be used up to 24 weeks. It is two medicines, the first one is mifepristone, it is responsible for ending the pregnancy by blocking the progesterone hormone and breaking done the uterus lining. The second is misoprostol which causes symptoms similar to a miscarriage causing the womb to contract and the pregnancy to be lost. With a surgical abortion there are two options, vacuum aspiration which removes the pregnancy with a gentle suction up to 15 weeks into a pregnancy. Then there is dilatation and evacuation, this requires cervical preparation the day of or the day before surgery depending on how far along you are. The pregnancy is then removed using narrow forceps through the cervix, this method can be done anywhere from 15 weeks to 24 weeks into a pregnancy (“Surgical Abortion.”, 2018) .
In the United State decisions regarding abortion laws were constructed after the ruling in Row v. Wade in 1973. The decision from Roe v. Wade declared that the Constitution protects women’s right to terminate an early pregnancy, thus making abortion legal in the United States. In some state’s abortion is in fact harder to obtain than in others (“An Overview of Abortion Laws.”, 2018) . 42 states require that an abortion be performed by a licensed physician, 19 of which require that it is performed in a hospital after a specific point in the pregnancy. 43 states prohibit abortion, generally except when necessary to protect the women’s life, after a specific point in pregnancy. 27 states require a woman to wait a specific period of time, normally 24 hours, after she receives counseling and the procedure is performed. 14 of these states have a law that effectively requires a woman to make two separate trips to the clinic to obtain the procedure (“History of Women’s Rights in America.”, 2018 ).
In many cases women are shamed for getting abortions, they are looked down upon by society. If a woman is forced to carry a child to term she does not want, it will do harm to the child. In some cases, physical harm but in most it will be emotion. When a woman is pregnant and does not wish to have a child she has a few options, she can carry the child to term and keep it, she can carry it to term and place it up for adoption, or she can terminate the pregnancy before the child develops. If the right to terminate the pregnancy get taken away a woman is left with two options. In some cases, it is hard for a woman to love a child she did not want. If a woman is raped it may be hard for her to have that child and love it due to the fact that the child will remind her of what had happened. In cases like these children may feel neglected and not loved causing emotional damage to the child as it ages. For woman who may be addicted to drugs are alcohol it may be hard for them to stop while they are pregnant. Substance abuse has been accounted for millions of cases of birth defects word wide. In any case a woman should have the right to decide what is happening and what she wants to be done to her body. There should be no limitations on a women’s body that would be contradicting to the reproductive rights that have been previously set into place.
Other ways that the reproductive rights of women are being limited the access to emergency contraceptive pills such as Plan B, the morning after pill. The Plan B pill is the most common emergency contraceptive pill that is sold over the counter. With the Plan B pill you take it up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. The pills do one of these three things determined by when you took the pill. If you take the plan B pill as early as you can after unprotected sex it will temporarily stop the release of an egg from the ovary, it will also prevent fertilization if the egg has already been released, and finally the plan B pill will prevent the fertilized egg from being able to attach to the uterus. Many people believe that the plan B pill is a form of abortion but in fact it is not. It is not considered an abortion pill because in many cases it is preventing the egg from falling or becoming fertilized, it would be like an emergency birth control pill rather than an abortion pill (“The Great Emergency Contraception Debate.”. 2017).
The plan B pill was first invented for women who were victims to prevent unintended pregnancy in the 1960s. It wasn’t until 2006 that the FDA announced that plan B would be available without a prescription for any one over the age of 18 and in 2009 lowering the age to 17. Recently in the news they have been talking about taking the plan B pill off the market, no longer being able to access it over the counter, only by doctor’s prescription. They have also been discussing if the age in which plan B can be purchased without a prescription. In 2009 the age in which it could be purchased over the counter was lowered from 18 to 17 they are once again talking of raising the age back to 18. By changing the means in which the plan B pill can be obtained you are taking away from a women, She will no longer be able to go to a pharmacy and retrieve the emergency contraception she needs but be forced to go into a hospital where she will be forced to wait to talk to a doctor that is going to prescribe something that was once so easy to obtain without the hassle. The pro-life advocates claim that plan B causes an abortion by stopping the fertilized egg from implanting onto the uterus, but the medical community states that it is emergency contraception that’s purpose is to prevent a pregnancy from occurring before it starts. The debate as to what the beginning of pregnancy actually is will continue on.
In regard to preventing pregnancy that is where contraception comes into the picture. In 1936 the judicial approval of medicinal use of birth control was established. In 1965 the court case Griswold v. Connecticut the Supreme Court overturns one of the last state laws prohibiting the prescription or use of contraceptives by married couples. In 1972 in the court case Eisenstadt v. Baird the Supreme Court rules that the right to privacy encompasses an unmarried person’s right to use contraceptives. Throughout history women have been forced to fight for what seems like a basic right (“History of Women’s Rights in America.”, 2018 ).
Today there are about 15 different types of contraceptives which allows women to enjoy sex without the risks of becoming pregnant. These methods range from short term, more long term and even permanent options. Birth control allows the women to have control over when she is ready for a baby. Birth control has the widest variety of forms. Examples of birth control would be the pill, male and female condoms, the diaphragm, the cervical cap, the IUD, the implant, the sponge, spermicide, the shot, the vaginal ring, the patch, and sterilization. For the most part the women must use most of these birth control options although there are a few men apply to as well. Since the invention and production of birth control it has helped the number of unplanned pregnancies go down. Of course, no birth control method other than absence can be 100% effective. Not only is birth control effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies but some also help to prevent against STDs. Some birth control options are available over the counter but some option a prescription is needed and some even require a surgical performance to be done.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act birth control is covered with no out of pocket cost as long as it fits in one of the categories your insurance has set. Women were able to control their lives without breaking the bank. In recent years President Trump has threated the accessibility and affordability of birth control. The Obama administration wanted birth control to be available more broadly, whereas the Trump administration is shifting the decision on birth control into the hands of the employers. With this approach how and what they pay for birth control depends on their insurance coverage, or lack of, their finances, and what they know and learn about their options. With some insurance companies they will limit the type of birth control they will cover, in most cases it is short term options they will. For a woman who would like a more long-term approach, she would be forced to pay out of pocket. Any sort of out of pocket payment for birth control would be expensive (“Birth Control Accessibility and Affordability in Trump’s America | Everyday Health”, 2018). Erica Sakin from Planned Parenthood says “For a number of women, even when they have to pay an insurance copay, let alone out of pocket, contraception can be too expensive. If you have to pay out of pocket, birth control pills can cost up to $600 a year, for example. If you are young, a student, etc., it can be completely unattainable.” This is causing some women to be unable to afford birth control, and if they cannot afford birth control they would not be able to afford the cost of having a child. Women are stuck between two financial burdens that they should not have to be in. If a woman does not wish to have a child she has that right, but the right of protecting herself against having a child is being stripped away. In America on average it cost over $30,000 just to give birth. If a woman is unable to afford the cost it is to get birth control out of pocket there is no way she could financially afford to have a child. Not being able to protect herself from the risks she may be forced to sustain from engagement in pleasurable acts due to the fact that she can no longer afford to be protected.
In American women have reproductive rights, but in other countries women have no rights at all when it comes to reproduction. In Romania women have few reproductive rights. The United Nations urged Romania to “Adopt a national strategy on sexual and reproductive health” to create mandatory reproductive education to combat teen pregnancy. Romania has the highest rates of teen pregnancy in Europe and have been accused of withholding affordable access to contraceptives and abortion. Romania also has a maternal mortality rate that is twice Europe’s average. In the Democratic Republic of Congo women survive in some of the most unsafe conditions in the world, they are often subject to systematic, gender-based violence as form of warfare. They practice female genital cutting which is where they remove the external female genitalia. The Democratic Republic of Congo also only allows for an abortion to take place if it is necessary to save the mother’s life. They also do not provide birth control. Less than 10% of the female population uses modern birth control methods. In India 34% of households use sterilization as their form of birth control. This is because India fails to provide access to condoms, contraceptives, and IUDs resulting in higher maternal death or injury and a rise in unsafe abortions. India also has sex-selective abortion practices. This allows a woman to abort a female fetus to increase chances of having a boy. Mexico has some of the structed abortion laws in the world. Women who illegally have an abortion are reported and sentenced to prison. Whereas other places don’t have access to contraceptives Mexico does, sadly most women are not educated in the use and need for these methods. South Africa is more liberal when it comes to abortion and has legalized it pretty much everywhere, the biggest issue in South Africa is the spread of STDs. The government has funded to give out free condoms in hopes to promote safe sex and lower the spread of STDs. In china the number of abortions and sterilization are among the highest, this makes sense if you take into count that China has a strict one-child policy. If a woman is in her child bearing years and becomes pregnant she must pay a great fine or be subjected to a forced abortion. Even though China’s one child law is more relaxed these days women still do not have the right to choose the size of their families. China also sees more value in having a boy than in having a girl. As a result of these articles from Newsweek states “in China, there are currently 32 million more boys under the age of 21 than girls.” In German they have plenty of access and options for contraceptives, but insurance plans do not cover them. Abortions are also not covered and must be paid out of pocket. Even though women can get abortions they are considered illegal but are defined as being unpunishable offenses. There is an option for a legal abortion, but the woman is required to attend counseling and then wait 3 days before she can go through with it (“Reproductive Rights Around The World”, 2015).
No matter where you live or what gender you are you should be granted with rights that allow you to make your own choices. In America women should not be discriminated against due to the fact they were born with the wrong body anatomy. Globally women are treated as a lesser to man for a reason that is not apparent. Women have the same capabilities as men and there is no reason they should be punished for the beautiful gift of being able for form and grow a new life within their bodies. The fight for women’s reproductive rights is a never-ending journey. Throughout history women across the world have been fighting for the rights they deserve, they have been fighting to take control of their own bodies. Women are capable of doing extraordinary things when they fight for the things that they believe in.