Open Letter to Pro-Lifers

Subject: Open Letter to Pro-Lifers
From: A Pro-choice Feminist
Date: 6 Nov 2017

Dear pro-lifers,

It is almost impossible to please everyone. In a debate, there are always opposers, supporters, and people in between that can’t commit to one side or they feel indifferent. But no matter what, even those that claim indifference or can’t pick a side, everyone always has a bias. As a woman, I may be biased, but biased towards what I believe is in the best interest of women in general. Abortion is a debatable topic that has passionate and biased supporters and opposers, and it seems as though the passion and biases are so strong that the opposing sides will never come to an agreement or resolution. I believe it is important to be open-minded, put your passion and bias aside, and view a debate from the opposite perspective. Although it can be very difficult to do, I ask you to please put your bias aside, as I do when I empathize with your argument. Hear me out on why I support legal abortion, and maybe after empathizing with me, pro-lifers and pro-choicers can come to an understanding and agreement. Perhaps we can make an agreement on a legal abortion policy that we both support? I am a very hopeful and optimistic person.

According to a study conducted by FamilyFacts.org, “weekly churchgoers, whether they are Republicans or Democrats - are much more likely to identify themselves as "pro-life" than those who seldom attend church” (Mass). I understand that some of you oppose abortion because of your religious beliefs. I understand because I was once on your side. My mother and grandmother are still on your side. They raised me as a Christian to love God and always attend church. We went to church every Sunday just like any good Christian family. However, as I grew old enough to form my own beliefs, learn, and question, I began to follow my own path--one different from my mother and grandmother. I began to question the Bible and if there is a God. Around the same time, my junior year of high school, I became fascinated with biology through taking AP Biology. I learned about cells and how human embryonic cells from fetal tissue can be manipulated in order to cure a multitude of diseases like Parkinson’s disease, and potentially even cure cancer (Meyer). Learning this was not only fascinating, but also hit home for me due to cancer’s major impact in my life.

My father passed away from brain cancer when I was a year old. He was, as my mother claims, her soulmate and love of her life. Her life was never the same after that. Depression struck her hard, so hard that she could not find the motivation to get out of bed for six months after his death despite having a newborn and two toddlers to still take care of. Life was hard, but eventually she got back on her feet and moved forward. Growing up, I knew I wanted to do something that could help anyone going through what my father suffered through, such as becoming a doctor. I still have that goal today. I want to be a doctor in order to help others, but not just people suffering with cancer. I want to help everyone I possibly can. Like I’ve said before, I am a very hopeful and optimistic person.

According to the World Health Organization, “an estimated 7.6 million people died of cancer in 2005 and 84 million people will die in the next 10 years if action is not taken” (WHO). Learning that we could potentially eliminate that suffering that my father and potentially 84 million other people will suffer through, was what sealed the deal for me. The combination of being a woman who supports women's rights, detaching from my religion, and my passion for biology, cancer, and helping others is what made me become pro-choice.

As I stated before, I can be open-minded, empathize with you, and I understand that some pro-lifers oppose abortion due to your religious, moral, or ethical beliefs. You may believe that abortion is killing a baby, taking away its future life and freedom, unjustly imposing on its human rights to life and liberty as stated in the U.S. Constitution, and unfairly killing it when it doesn’t even get to have a say in the decision. The Constitution only guarantees rights to "humans" and the Court has determined that embryos or fetuses have no particular rights, that is, until they have reached "personhood." Obviously the fetus cannot have a say because it is still developing inside the woman carrying it, and it will not become a human until it is actually outside of the mother’s womb. Until a fetus is a human, it does not have human rights. On the other hand, the woman carrying the fetus actually is a living, breathing, thinking human who has human rights and should be respected. I believe the woman carrying that developing embryo should be the main voice and decision on whether she wants to keep the baby or not. She is an alive human with the freedom and liberty to do what she chooses, especially when it involves her own body. It is unfair and unjust to create laws that dictate what a woman can or cannot do to or with her own body. It is especially unfair because these laws are typically being made by Congressmen. In today’s modern and progressive society, men should not dictate what women can or cannot do, that would be like going back in time to the dark ages. Banning abortion is a way that men are using their power to control what women can and cannot do.

We must not go back to the dark ages, the time before Roe v. Wade where abortion was illegal and getting an abortion was dangerous and life-threatening. According to a study by The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Guttmacher Institute published in The Lancet, “Worldwide, 25 million unsafe abortions (45% of all abortions) occurred every year between 2010 and 2014. The majority of unsafe abortions, or 97%, occurred in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America” (WHO). Illegalizing abortions does not decrease the amount of abortions, it only decreases the amount of safe abortions. Unsafe abortions occur because abortion is illegal in that area, but these unsafe abortions are harming women. But what exactly is an unsafe abortion? Unsafe abortions are “abortions provided by untrained persons using dangerous methods, such as introduction of foreign objects and use of herbal concoctions” or “performed by a trained provider using an unsafe or outdated method such as sharp curettage” (WHO). Whether performed by a trained or untrained person, either one of these methods are unsafe and potentially harmful and life-threatening for the woman undergoing the procedure. Dr. Bela Ganatra, lead author of the study and a scientist in the WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research, says,

“When women and girls cannot access effective contraception and safe abortion services, there are serious consequences for their own health and that of their families. This should not happen. But despite recent advances in technology and evidence, too many unsafe abortions still occur, and too many women continue to suffer and die” (WHO).

We must continue to progress forward towards an equal, fair, and safe society in which women do not have to risk their lives in order to have an abortion, and can safely get an abortion even if she has a low income or is not covered by a health insurance. Currently, “The United States is one of around 60 countries that provide legal access to safe abortions during the early stages of a woman’s pregnancy. [However], access to treatment depends on laws determined by each state” (Mackintosh). Unfortunately, some states take advantage of their power, such as North Dakota, Iowa, and Arkansas, by making it harder for women to access a safe and legal abortion.

On April 13th, 2017, President Trump “signed legislation aimed at cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood and other groups that perform abortions” (Davis). Additionally, Trump informally proposed to federally fund Planned Parenthood if they stop performing abortions, but this proposal “has been rejected as an impossibility by officials at Planned Parenthood, which receives about $500 million annually in federal funding. That money helps pay for women’s health services the organization provides, not for abortion services” (Haberman). Planned Parenthood is known for performing safe abortions for women in addition to providing sexual healthcare and HIV tests. Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, explains, “Offering money to Planned Parenthood to abandon our patients and our values is not a deal that we will ever accept. Providing critical health care services for millions of American women is nonnegotiable.” Trump wants to defund Planned Parenthood in order to decrease abortion rates, but not only is that unfair and biased, but defunding Planned Parenthood would also harm those who receive healthcare services from it. This unfair move needs to be stopped. Each woman — no matter how much money she makes or who provides her insurance — should be able to access reproductive healthcare, including abortion. Every woman should be able to make her own decisions about pregnancy based on her own unique circumstances, and have access to the resources she needs to exercise that decision. Whether a woman decides to keep or abort her baby should be entirely her decision and that decision should be respected.

According to the First Amendment in the United States Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” (Constitution). Therefore, the law is supposed to be secular, meaning that there is a separation between church and state. Religion should not have any influence in creating the law. However, pro-lifers in Congress are allowing their biases to interfere with the lawmaking process. Incorporating religious beliefs into laws violates the First Amendment, but Trump and Congressmen seem to forget that. An example of this is the Hyde Amendment:

“Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has blocked federal Medicaid funding for abortion services (since 1994, there have been three extremely narrow exceptions: when continuing the pregnancy will endanger the woman’s life, or when the pregnancy results from rape or incest). This means Medicaid cannot cover abortion even when a woman’s health is at risk and her doctor recommends she get an abortion. The Hyde Amendment is a dangerous and unfair policy that lets politicians interfere in a woman’s personal health care decisions” (Planned Parenthood).

The Hyde Amendment essentially makes it nearly impossible for low-income women who rely on Medicaid to receive an abortion. When a woman decides to end her pregnancy but cannot afford it, she may have to forgo paying for basic necessities like food, heat, and electricity in order to save the necessary funds, or even resort to self-inducing an abortion or obtaining an abortion from an untrained or unlicensed practitioner. Either option is harmful and unfair for the woman. Why should she suffer just to do something she lawfully has the right to do? It’s her body and her decision. Respect that decision. Help her carry out her decision.
I am not saying you need to be a woman--since women are directly involved in pregnancy and abortion--to support legal abortion. I am not saying you need to lose your religion or moral values to support legal abortion. I am not saying you need to love biology and hate cancer to support legal abortion. I am saying that you need to be open-minded. Think of the bigger picture. Think from the opposite perspective. Put your bias aside. If that is done, then maybe we can come to an agreement to allow legal, safe abortions nation and worldwide and make sure that any woman who chooses to end her pregnancy has the access to resources to help her do so.

Sincerely,
A pro-choice feminist

Works Cited

Davis, Julie Hirschfeld. “Trump Signs Law Taking Aim at Planned Parenthood Funding.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 13 Apr. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/04/13/us/politics/planned-parenthood-trump.html.

Haberman, Maggie. “Trump Tells Planned Parenthood Its Funding Can Stay If Abortion Goes.”The New York Times, The New York Times, 6 Mar. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/03/06/us/politics/planned-parenthood.html.

Mackintosh, Eliza. “Abortion Laws around the World Range from Bans to Personal Choice.” CNN, Cable News Network, 25 Jan. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/01/25/health/abortion-laws-around-the-world/index.html.

Madison, James. “Constitution of the United States - We the People.” Constitution for the United States - We the People, constitutionus.com/.

Mass, W. (2014, Jul 07). Why do pro-lifers fund abortion? The New American, 30, 27-31. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1545987376?accountid=35396

Meyer, J. R. (2000). Human embryonic stem cells and respect for life. Journal of Medical Ethics, 26(3), 166. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jme.26.3.166

Parenthood, Planned. “Hyde Amendment.” Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Planned Parenthood, www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/issues/abortion/hyde-amendment.

“Worldwide, an Estimated 25 Million Unsafe Abortions Occur Each Year.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 28 Sept. 2017, www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2017/unsafe-abortions-worldwide/en/.

“World Cancer Day: Global Action to Avert 8 Million Cancer-Related Deaths by 2015.” WHO, World Health Organization, 3 Feb. 2006, www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2006/pr06/en/.

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