On Thursday, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a bill into law that massively restricted abortion access in the state. The bill means that many women will have to travel hundreds of miles for terminations.
Christians and other anti-abortionists have celebrated this move, seeing the roadblocks that it throws up as saving many babies. But the reality for the women of Texas is not the joyous saving of beloved children’s lives.
The horrors of septic abortion wards are a thing of the past in America, but if abortion laws continue to be tightened, then they could make a return. If a woman is desperate enough, she will do anything, even risk her health or life, in order to end a pregnancy. Freely available abortions simply make the process safe for these women. Thus, the bill’s catch-cry of ‘more safety for women’ rings hollow. Laws like this do not add to the safety of an already medically safe procedure. They make massively unsafe procedures more likely.
If a woman chooses to keep the child, there are further nasty scenarios that can arise. A common cry in the early years of the feminist abortion wars was ‘Every child a wanted child’. The consequences of an unwanted child can be pretty awful. If the mother never gets past the problem of not wanting the child, then eventually that child is going to know. The awful feeling of growing up knowing you’re unwanted is not something that any child should have to bear. And I would surmise (although I have no statistics to back this up) that unwanted children probably have higher rates of neglect and abuse.
If a woman is choosing an abortion because of her financial situation, then forcing her to keep the child brings a new set of problems. Poverty is a major burden to bear, and when you’re only just getting by, a baby is going to make things so much more difficult. The working poor woman has to find some way to have the baby cared for while she works, or she has to rely on the state for support. And relying on the state for support is not a choice anyone really wants to make, especially in the US where many states’ safety nets are painfully threadbare.
There are many other reasons why women choose abortion, and many different sets of consequences for these women if that choice is taken away from them. None of this is new, none of it hasn’t been said before, and it’s sad that it still has to be said. But it does have to be said, and said again, until those in power listen and understand.