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Column: The U.S. makes a big step back

An opinion piece on the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade case.
abortion, pregnancu termination, protests
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Many people would agree that Friday was a dark day in the history of American human rights. And many American citizens would say that.

I'm confident that no woman ever wants an abortion as their plan A or even plan F, but there are many situations where knowing that you are not trapped is something vital.

The Supreme Court stripped away women's constitutional protections for abortion in the U.S. on Friday, which will bring fundamental and deeply personal changes in the lives of many Americans. Once it was announced that nearly a half-century under Roe v. Wade came to an end, half of the country lit up red and orange, indicating states that will proceed with changes to their abortion regulations.

While abortion opponents were celebrating the culmination of years of efforts, thousands of Americans hit the streets, protesting the court's decision that not only gives the potential to deny women's rights but also may be a sign of further decline for many minorities.

Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe, the issue of abortion is in the jurisdiction of each individual state, as it used to be before. Abortions are not banned nationwide, but experts note that roughly half of the states will be quick in action.

Right after the decision was made, several U.S. states announced bans on abortions, dividing the already deeply divided country even further. Abortion bans were announced in Missouri, South Dakota, Utah, Alabama, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and Kentucky.

There are now laws in place that make performing an abortion a felony that can result in years-long prison sentences, according to CNBC. Rape and incest are not exempt from those laws. Women are not to be prosecuted for having an abortion under these laws.

Idaho, Texas, Tennessee, North Dakota, Mississippi and Wyoming also announced their plans on proceeding with bans or limitations at a later date.

At the same time, states like Oregon, Washington and California stated that they would expand access to abortions for those coming over to undergo the procedure and will protect the patients.

The approach to abortions once again bolded lines between Republican and Democrat-dominated states, with the former using the first opportunity to go back to the old days, and others trying to pick up those pushed to the margins.

I see abortion regulating laws as a political statement and a position, rather than sincere care about the needs and pains of the population and each citizen. The nationwide decision opened doors for further political manifestations. And many states will push for big steps, which might be popular with the population standing strong on their feet. But the repercussions of those steps will hit those who are already hurting the most.

Amnesty International, the human rights watchdog, pointed out that "people have abortions all the time, regardless of what the law says."

Other countries' experience shows that an abortion ban leads to a rise in underground procedures, which usually means worse settings, hygiene and potential risk to patients' lives. Access to developed medicine becomes scarce if abortions are criminalized, which means that instead of a safe procedure with minimal risk for the women who need it, will be left with a choice to either travel and pay for the procedure somewhere in which it's allowed, or risk their health turning to often outdated and unsafe practices.

Those lobbying for the ban would say the simple choice would be to just give birth. 

Yet, people still seek other options. Guttmacher Institute's (a U.S.-based reproductive health non-profit) data shows that the abortion rate is 37 per 1,000 people in countries that prohibit abortion altogether or allow it only in instances to save a woman's life, and 34 per 1,000 people in countries that broadly allow for abortion, as quoted by Amnesty International. Is that the difference that the fight is for?

When restricted or banned, pregnancy termination becomes a more dangerous and also expensive procedure, but not rare.

Most doctors, even those that don't support pregnancy termination, agree that a ban on abortions won't solve the demographic problems that are often quoted in the debate.

Access to various types of contraception, a higher level of sexual education, coupled with a higher standard of living and a better social support system may indeed put a good dint on abortion rates. But prohibition doesn't work that well.

The ethical part of the discussion is another story.

After the court ruled on Friday, I've come across many opinions on the matter, including one by Dave Barnhart, a fundamental Christian pastor.  His quote went viral in May, as many were fearing what became the reality in June, and it strongly resonated with my thoughts.

"'The unborn’ are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don't resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don't ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don't need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don't bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn," Barnhart said.

Indeed, who is going to hurt the most from the ban? Largely those that are already at the bottom of the hierarchical oppression system that we seem to be trying to decompose really hard until recently.

The criminalization of pregnancy termination, which is in reality a restriction of the access to healthcare that only certain people need – read discrimination – will only further fuel stigma around abortions and gender stereotypes. Amnesty states that "The mere perception that abortion is unlawful or immoral leads to the stigmatization of women and girls by health care staff, family members and the judiciary, among others. Consequently, women and girls seeking abortion risk discrimination and harassment."

Can it be true, that that's the direction the U.S. is moving in?

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