The Danger of Abortion Bans

The following piece contains information that may be upsetting to readers. It discusses forced and child marriage, physical and sexual abuse, abortion and loss of pregnancy, and more. Reader discretion is advised.

Back in 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that a pregnant person had the right to access an abortion in a case known as Roe v Wade. This decision was overruled in June of 2022, and since then, abortion bans and restrictions have been popping up all over the country. These bills are generally very well-intentioned, motivated by the desire to preserve innocent life. However, they are also very controversial for a number of reasons, including health risks and bodily autonomy.
Abortion is legally protected in 24 states around the country, including here in Washington. That leaves 26 states and multiple territories in which abortion is at risk of becoming, or already is illegal. Banning or restricting abortion is almost always in the pursuit of protecting the lives of innocent children, as well as sometimes stemming from a religious standpoint. Aside from the problematic nature of legislation based in religion, prohibiting abortion often causes more problems than it solves.
Dr. John Neeld, a recently retired obstetrician and gynecologist in Oregon, has a lot to say on the topic of reproductive rights and healthcare in the United States.
“I have a very liberal stance on reproductive healthcare,” said Neeld. “I think that contraception should be available for free and I think the government should pay for it. I think that should certainly be an option for anyone who doesn’t want to get pregnant. I also think infertility services should be covered by insurance, which, often it isn’t.”
Neeld also believes abortion should be legal.
“I’ve known many, many women who’ve had abortions,” Neeld continued. “I’ve referred women to have abortions, though I didn’t perform them… nobody takes that decision lightly.”
In the case Zurawski v. State of Texas, five women are suing the state for its near-total abortion ban. The infamous SB 8, otherwise known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, prohibits any healthcare provider from performing or inducing an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The act does have an exception, which allows physicians to carry out an abortion in the case of a medical emergency. According to the lawsuit, however, the five women ”have been denied necessary and potentially life-saving obstetrical care because medical professionals throughout the state fear liability under Texas’s abortion bans.”
Amanda Zurawski, for whom the lawsuit is named, was denied abortion care until she became septic, causing one of her fallopian tubes to close permanently. Another woman, Lauren Miller, was carrying twins until one was no longer viable, forcing her to “travel out of state for the abortion she needed to save her and her other baby’s life,” according to the complaint.
When informed of this lawsuit, Dr. Neeld said. “I think that’s especially crazy. We’re talking about what I would consider non-elective abortions … If you know you have what we would call a lethal anomaly, so the baby is not going to live, [an abortion] will improve the mom’s health.”
He explained that fetuses that develop lethal anomalies such as anencephaly, where the skull or brain is underdeveloped, often have complications during birth, resulting in emergency Cesarean sections. Because of that, it is much safer to allow the pregnant person the option to abort the fetus upon diagnosis.
“I think that a lot of times legislators that want to make political points with particular religious groups will make these laws without really understanding the consequences or at least without caring enough about the consequences,” Neeld concluded. “So, you know, it’s always tough to have Congress making medical decisions. I am very much against that in any realm of medicine. Those are decisions to be made between a healthcare provider and their patients.”
To many people who are anti-abortion, preserving unborn life is more important than a pregnant person’s right to choose whether or not they stay pregnant. To many pro-abortion people, that decision should be left to a person and their doctor, without lawmakers getting in the way. Something both sides can generally agree on, though, is that innocent children ought to be protected, regardless of which methods they support. The goal to protect children is rarely considered anything but noble. Unfortunately, the protections offered to unborn children do not always continue after birth.
Nearly 8,000 American children are killed by gun violence every year, making guns the leading cause of death for American children. Every year, 3.6 million cases of child abuse are reported. According to Unchained At Last, nearly 300,000 minors were married in the United States between the years of 2000 and 2018. Thus, it is clear that the priorities of our government must be shifted. Abortion bans cause more harm than good, and there are much more pressing threats to children’s safety and freedom than abortion.
If we are to truly aim to protect children’s lives and innocence, we have to start with the issues that actually threaten them. The children that are alive right now in the United States deserve to be safe. They deserve to live without fear of being abused. They deserve to reach age 18 without being shot. They deserve to grow up as children instead of immature spouses. They deserve to be protected by the law throughout their entire lives, not just in the womb.