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The Daily Tar Heel

Editorial: The domino effect of restrictive abortion policies

First-year Rose Deconto faces the anti-abortion Genocide Awareness Project exhibit displayed at Polk Place on Tuesdat Oct. 22, 2019. The students protested the exhibit that included graphic images and made comparisons between abrotion procedures and mass genocides.

The debate on abortion rights is an ever-changing topic in the U.S., with every change in legislation impacting people's lives dramatically. Access to abortion has far reaching impacts, including patient physical health, economic stability and individual freedoms.

Ultimately, without these rights, people’s livelihoods are at risk.

Inclusive and liberal reproductive rights play a crucial role in people’s health and success. Any threats to these legal rights have proven to have harmful effects on individuals — yet threats still persist.

Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It comes after a wave of new abortion ban legislation in states, such as Mississippi, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed legislation making it a felony to perform an abortion.

This ban is the most extensive abortion restriction to go into effect since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973 — the landmark precedent that guaranteed the right to abortion.

Roe made it possible for women to receive safe and legal abortions from medical professionals.  This Supreme Court case led to a severe decrease in pregnancy-related deaths and injuries.

More than 500 pieces of anti-abortion legislation have been introduced across the country this year. This comes in preparation of the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that could affect Roe.

If the Supreme Court were to limit or overturn Roe, millions of people would be forced to travel to receive legal abortion care. This could be impossible for many because of financial or logistic limitations.

Overturning or weakening Roe would be a significant danger for individuals who are seeking abortion care. Legal abortion decreases abortion and pregnancy-related complications and death. Restricting people’s access to safe and legal abortion services causes them to risk their lives and health by seeking out unsafe abortion methods.

If Roe is overturned, North Carolina lawmakers will likely try to prohibit abortion, due in large part to aid from a Republican legislative majority. Although Gov. Roy Cooper supports abortion rights, there are numerous, medically unnecessary restrictions that the state makes access abortion care.

 One common mode of restricting abortion in North Carolina are placing restricting provisions on  abortion services to hospitals or other specialized facilities, which can place additional burdens on  doctors and can limit the availability of abortion care.

There is also pre-Roe ban in North Carolina would prohibit abortion if it winds up being enforced.

Nearly seven in 10 abortion patients in the U.S. were between the ages of 18 and 29, according to the Guttmacher Institute. One in five abortion patients cited educational or career reasons when choosing to have an abortion. 

Reproductive choice itself is a matter of educational equity.

For way too many college students, the right to reproductive autonomy depends on where they go to college. Many students must scramble to find rides hundreds of miles from their college towns to find the nearest abortion provider. The ability to choose when to have a family plays a major role in the future of a college student. For one survey, 20 percent of abortion patients said that pregnancy would negatively affect their education, career or other goals.

Students have the power to advocate for their reproductive health and the health of their peers.

On a more local level, they can advocate for their health centers to provide family planning services, petition schools to voice support for reproductive choices and ask whether their medical school trains future physicians on how to counsel patients on reproductive choices and provide abortions. 

And at the state and national levels, college students can advocate for laws and policies that increase access to abortion services. 

Recent abortion bans in the U.S. are not only dangerous to individuals in those states, but take one more dangerous step toward threatening Roe. People should have the access and choice to make health care decisions for themselves, and the weakening or overturning Roe would take that away for so many people.


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