The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday October 5th

Editorial: Abortion must remain accessible, affordable and federally protected

<p>Protesters hold signs in reaction to the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade on May 3, 2022, in Chapel Hill, NC.&nbsp;</p>
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Protesters hold signs in reaction to the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade on May 3, 2022, in Chapel Hill, NC. 

We, as an Editorial Board, have not fallen silent on the issue of reproductive healthcare.

Today, more than ever, we are clear and firm in our position: abortion is a necessary tenant of reproductive healthcare and a right — end of discussion. The Supreme Court’s decision to uproot this right is reflective of a long-standing sentiment held by many that feel women do not deserve the degree of autonomy necessary to make such a decision about their bodies and wellbeings.

Taking time to reflect on the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June and our coverage over the years, we want to emphasize how far-reaching and disastrous this decision is, especially for poor women, rural women and women of color.

Even in states like North Carolina, where abortion is still legal, women still face roadblocks to receiving affirming, affordable and comprehensive reproductive care.

At their most inexpensive, abortions can cost several hundred dollars, with Pregnancy Decision Line reporting the cost of abortion pills to be $360 in N.C. More invasive procedures and pregnancies that are farther along can cost far more, reaching over $1,000. 

Forty-nine percent of women who receive abortions are below the federal poverty line. And for women who must wait and save to afford an abortion, they run the risk of the procedure becoming more costly and unattainable as time goes on.

Meanwhile, according to the Guttmacher Institute, only 16 states provide state-funded abortions in some capacity via Medicaid. The Hyde Amendment prevents federal Medicaid funds from being used to fund abortions.

For those in rural communities, the mere distance between yourself and a clinic is a prohibiting factor. One in five women will travel over 43 miles to receive an abortion.

When we analyze who is getting abortions in America, it is explicitly clear that BIPOC women will bear the burden of Roe v. Wade being overturned. Only 6.6 per 1,000 abortions were those of white women, compared to 23.8 per 1,000 for Black women and 11.7 per 1,000 for Hispanic women.

The externalities of this decision have the potential to be even more catastrophic, potentially lending a hand to rates of spousal abuse, the criminalization of women who attempt to terminate their pregnancies and felony disenfranchisement of those criminalized.

So what exactly do we want, and how can we get there?

The Editorial Board recognizes that reproductive care goes far beyond abortions, and knows that threats to one of these services are a potential threat to all of them. With abortion access being our core concern at this time, we recognize the potential of bad faith leaders to target other aspects of women’s bodily autonomy.

We want reproductive care that is inclusive of nonbinary and transgender people and includes gender-affirming care, such as hormone treatments. We want measures to protect sexual health, such as pelvic exams, STD testing and contraceptives. There must also be ways to promote healthy and supportive pregnancies, including family planning services, prenatal care and protecting the ability of women to make informed medical decisions about their own bodies.

We have chosen not to fall silent on this issue – not now or ever. And it’s crucial that others in positions of power and with the means to do so – students, our community leaders, University administration – don’t fall silent either. 

Complacency in the changing face of women’s rights only allows the issue to worsen, and to do so in ways that disproportionately harm poor women and women of color. Give your time and resources to organizations that help women seeking abortions in North Carolina. Hold local and state policymakers accountable for maintaining abortion access in the state.

And perhaps most importantly, be angry. You do not owe anyone a peaceful or passive response to the egregious violations of your autonomy.

@dthopinion

opinion@dailytarheel.com

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