Women have a right to abortion without excessive regulation or societal shame (Opinion)

Abortion has been inaccurately criminalized and judged, and in recent times, it has been overly restricted once again


Spenser Leise

“No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.” — Frederica Mathewes-Green

Arizona Lee, Editor-in-Chief

Disclaimer: It has come to the writer’s attention that some of the terms used in this article aren’t inclusive. Corrections will be given at the bottom of the original article.

Opinion articles represent the view of the individual writer, not necessarily The Mav student newspaper, MHS, or SVVSD.

Abortion is not murder. Abortion is a healthcare right for women worldwide.

Criminalizing women receiving an abortion by calling them “ruthless”, “selfish”, or “a murder” is extremely discriminatory commentary. This perspective is exceedingly inaccurate and further hurts victims going through emotional distress and grief.

There appears to be a common misconception that women who go through with one or more abortions do this process “willy nilly”. For many women, abortion is traumatic, emotionally painful, and an extremely difficult decision to make. It has been proven to often result in nightmares, feelings of worthlessness, and self-destructive behaviors. To say that abortion is emotionally exhausting is an understatement. This is something women do to better the state of our society, not maliciously undermine it.

According to the CDC, 92.7% of abortions in 2019 happened before or at 13 weeks or during the first trimester. Late pregnancy abortions specifically during the third trimester are incredibly rare; they nearly only happen when there are serious health concerns with the mother or baby.

Up until week nine, a fertilized egg isn’t even a fetus yet — it is still an embryo, and to some, this is literally just a cluster of cells.

We in America are lucky enough to have body autonomy, which is defined as “the right for a person to govern what happens to their body without external influence or coercion”. For example citizens are not forced to be bone marrow, blood, or organ donors — that is a choice we can make, but we do not have to. We have a right to choose our own medical experiences.

Even with a child inside of a mother’s womb, that is still her body. No one but her has a right to decide what happens to it.

Why is body autonomy being taken away from us in the specific situation of abortion?

What is different about it that makes others feel they are allowed, even obligated, to comment, guilt, shame, and restrictively regulate the private medical decisions of someone else?

Those who regulate abortions appear to think they’re serving the greater good.

In reality, they are not saving anyone by forcing a mother to bear a child. Children in the foster care system are four times more likely to experience significant mental health issues when compared to the general population.

If people are going to claim they deeply care about the well being of children, surely they cannot actually believe that forcing them into environments of extreme financial insecurity and strain, rocky or nonexistent marriages and parental support, mental health crises, and so much more is actually beneficial.

Those who are ignorant in the face of experiencing true lack of agency and basic respect from others are the very lawmakers deciding for those who have been oppressed for centuries: women.

Abortion laws limit healthcare access for women, further encouraging societal shaming, harassment, and gender bias.

The following section contains brief discussion surrounding sexual assault and victims of assault. Reader discretion is advised.

Children, in lucky cases, are a choice women make, whether planned or not. Disgustingly and unfortunately, that choice is taken away from them in too many situations. Victims of sexual assault should not be forced to entirely change the course of their lives to support the consequences of someone else’s decision. They should not be asked to set aside their deeply rooted trauma having been horrifically objectified and having no chance at agency to raise a child they did not ask for.

I deeply believe that until you truly experience a situation in which you do not feel like a human being, do not have a chance to speak up or protect yourself, and have your opinion, preferences, and personality stamped silent, you will not understand a woman who receives an abortion after being assaulted.

These women have already had their right to choose taken away from them once by a fellow citizen. Lawmakers are doing it to them again while those around them, some of which are fellow women, shame and degrade them.

The remainder of this article does not contain mention or discussion of sexual assault.

In addition to social reasons for abortion, nearly half of abortions occurring in 2019 were for medical reasons. We should not be asking women to risk their lives, safety, and health for an unborn cluster of cells they will not be able to properly support.

Our basic rights are under question:

Our right to privacy. Our right to respect. Our right to decide if and when we want to start a family.

It is not a woman’s job to just “figure it out” and have a baby. You don’t just “figure it out” with a human being under your care and expect them to grow up happy, healthy, and safe.

Women should not have to give birth and somehow provide a decent life for a baby simply for the sake of your conscience — it is not your body, therefore it is not your business nor your choice.

Allowing a woman agency doesn’t mean all pregnancies will end in abortion. Women who feel they can properly support a child will. But they, at the very least, should be given the decency and respect that every man is given, every woman who is not pregnant or a victim is given: the option of personal and private choice.

Topics like safe sex and consensual sex are still taboo and stigmatized. And then we expect pregnant women, often at a very young age, to turn their lives upside down to struggle and try to support a growing child.

According to the CDC, only 50% of teen mothers graduate high school by age 22.

A child creates serious change in your life, both positive and negative. Only the one who most experiences that change should be allowed to make decisions about their own abortion.

We ask women to no longer dedicate their agencies to themselves, but to an embryo that they didn’t even ask for.

By stopping abortion, who do lawmakers and pro life citizens feel like they’re saving? The child? Definitely not. The mother? She’s most likely experiencing the many mental health effects, such as depression, that follow birth. The strain of financial stress, a possible lack of partner, etc. adds immensely to these mental health issues.

Stop criminalizing abortion. It is a choice all women have a right to make legally and privately.


Edited June 25, 2022

“Women” correction:

The term “women” can be interpreted to not include transgender women (male to female) as well as those who do not identify as women, but still have uteruses in their biological reproductive system. This was not the intention whatsoever by using the term “women” in this piece; abortion should be legally and socially protected for all individuals with reproductive systems that include uteruses. Recent bans and excessive limits on abortion target not only cis women, but trans women, gender fluid and non-binary individuals, and others with uteruses.