Access to legal abortion is a fundamental right (Local Voices)

The following is an opinion piece first appearing in LNP 2/3/22

read on LNP

I don’t really enjoy talking about abortion, because it’s private. Or it should be. And still, as we recently passed the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade — a critical Supreme Court decision for safe, legal abortion access in the United States — we are once again faced with the privacy, safety and futures of members of our community being at stake.

For most of my life, people who become pregnant have been guaranteed a constitutional right to make deeply personal and sometimes difficult decisions about their futures.

Pre-viability abortion bans, like the one recently passed and upheld in Mississippi, disproportionately harm young women and particularly women of color — core constituencies of YWCAs across the country — robbing them of their right to autonomy over their future.

The looming Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization threatens to set society back. People who are pregnant in Lancaster County and across the country would face significant harm as the first generation in half a century to enter adulthood without the fundamental right to make the decision whether to continue a pregnancy.

In the past 50 years, our country has made tremendous strides in improving the economic outcomes, educational attainment, health and safety for women. All of that stands to be undermined by the Supreme Court.

Individuals who are denied an abortion are four times more likely to live in poverty than those who can access care. Restrictions on abortion care hurt working-class and low-income people the most, as the cost of transportation, child care and taking time off work often combine to put access to care out of reach.

Many remember what it was like before and do not wish those realities on communities today. We know restricting abortions does not end abortions. Rather, it will return us to the days of dangerous, back-room, secretive abortions for most — while those with greater resources have more access to care. The same old story of privileged access.

Roe v. Wade is clearly established precedent, and my access to health care, or yours, shouldn’t be up for debate. Individuals require access to safe, legal abortions, high-quality care and protection under the law.

For more than 50 years, YWCA has supported a person’s freedom to make fundamental decisions about whether and when to have children. Abortion decisions should be left to pregnant people and their doctors. We haven’t changed our stance on this matter of established law. I believe in your right to privacy and your right to your future.

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