Reproductive rights seem to always be a divisive topic, with extremely passionate people on both sides weighing in on what they feel is the right decision to make. Every interaction I have personally experienced has ended up in frustration, and with the anti-choice side telling me how they feel I should make choices for my own body and reproductive health. This project looks at the laws and regulations surrounding abortion in America, from the passing of Roe vs Wade up until now with the many heartbeat bills being passed. The intention of this project is to highlight the states that have restrictive laws and the states that allow more, or will still allow abortions if Roe v Wade is ever overturned. The timeline takes a look at violence that has been comitted against pro-choice people and the clinics that provide abortions. I would have explored the violence topic more in depth if this was a fully functional site but I was only able to touch on it briefly. If given the time, I would have liked to have been able to really explore each state. Many states are still a grey area for abortions and do not have really restrictive laws; therefore I mainly focused on the states that were very restrictive and the states that were the most accomodating. Another aspect I would like to have looked into is creating a website that could be kept up to date with new laws being passed so that it could be as informative as possible for those who need it.
Lets get into it then. Dissent magazine discusses that before the passing of Roe v Wade many women died from complications or were injured due to ‘back alley abortions’ which often resulted in the loss of reproductive capability. Immediately after Roe was passed the number of women injured or dying due to abortions was dramatically decreased. Roe offered women the ability to control their own reproductive health, with legal abortions having enabled women to put having a family on hold until they are ready for it, if ever. This, along with the invention of contraception pills in 1960 allowed women to be more in control and make time line based decisions for what they wanted for their lives regarding when or if they were ready to have children. George W. Bush is quoted saying “when it became possible for women to buy contraceptives… men lost their manhood” so clearly we can all see how women taking control of their reproductive health was commonly thought of.
This narrative of women having control has trickled over to the abortion debate with many ‘pro-life’ activists campaigning for Roe v Wade to be overturned, therefore campaigning for womens reproductive health to be taken out of their own hands and into the hands of the government. Along with pro-life activists campaigning for the reversal of Roe v Wade, there has unfortunately been many cases of attacks on clinics, doctors, clinic escorts, staff and even off duty police officers. These attacks committed by those who base their whole agenda of valuing life seem to only apply to the unborn in this case. Violence seems to be used frequently by the extremists that think it is the appropriate way to get their message accross. A link to a timeline highlighting pro life violence in America can be found here. This is not a full list as there was more violence throughout North America but this website is only focusing on American attacks.
One notable man who was murdered was Dr. George Tiller, who was assasinated outside of the church he attended with his wife. He was murdered because he was a late term abortion provider, meaning that he preformed abortions of grieving women who wanted their pregnancy to come to full term. The care Dr. Tiller provided was not a light decision, late term abortions happen only when the fetus will not live long after birth due to an abnormality, if the fetus is already dying inside the mothers womb, or if the mother has a life threatening illness that makes the pregnancy not viable. A link to the Dr. Tiller documentary can be found here. The women that recieved these abortions did not do so lightly, as these were wanted pregnancies that must have emotionally devastated the women who were required to have the abortions.
While pro life activists are campaigning for Roe v Wade to be overturned, some states are creating restrictive laws that are making it nearly impossible to recieve an abortion. 2019 alone has seen many ‘heartbeat bills’ come into effect and are being questioned over how constitutional these laws are. To fully see some of the most restrictive laws (and a few of the states fighting for reproductive rights!) click here. Many of the Govenors signing these bills are fully aware that they are unconstitutional, the hope is that these bills will be challeneged infront of the supreme court and the anti-choice movement will be able to have Roe v Wade overturned, which unfortunately could become a real possibility in America.