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We Said We Would Never Go Back

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December 16, 2015

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We said we would never go back to coat hangers.

It’s 2015 and reproductive health care and the right to a safe abortion are consistently in question. As a result, another woman has attempted an abortion on her own using a metal coat hanger. As if that’s not bad enough, the woman was arrested and charged with attempted murder.

It’s past time that we realize that restricting access to safe medical treatments has dangerous consequences, and that people who try to end pregnancies without the help of a medical professional shouldn’t be punished or criminalized for their actions.

The most recent case of a woman self-inducing comes from Tennessee. Tennessee maintains strict restrictions on abortion including a ban on all procedures past twelve weeks pregnant, and a requirement that women must make two trips to a clinic — forty-eight hours apart — before they are allowed to undergo the procedure. This woman was twenty-four weeks pregnant, making a safe and legal abortion not plausible.

This should not be happening. It’s been 42 years since Roe v. Wade and abortion access is still hindered by local, state, and federal lawmakers to the point where most people looking for safe medical abortions find multiple legal barriers that keep them from doing so.

As much as we’d like to believe that self-induced abortions are few and far between, we need to recognize that there are too many people in our country who see obstacles, not access when it comes to abortion. We need to acknowledge that clinics are closing all over the United States. The longer a woman has to wait for the procedure to be performed, the farther she has to drive, the more she has to pay, the fact that in Texas she will be forced to see a sonogram, are all factors that deter women from getting safe and effective abortions.

I’m at a loss for words. Forty-two years later and coat hanger abortions are still occurring. This isn’t an old tale from the past; this is NOW.  This is not progress. We need to act.

Let’s work together to ensure that when a someone chooses to end a pregnancy they can do so safely and effectively. Instead of criminalizing someone for ending their own pregnancy, let’s work to end the stigma, restrictions, and other barriers to health care that politicians and society have put in place.

If we truly allowed women their right to privacy and gave them access to healthcare (including abortion because abortion is a health care issue) then unsafe self-induction would occur less often. This is a problem that is absolutely preventable. And we will not rest until change is made. We will never go back.

 

Image via openDemocracy on Flickr

 

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