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Pro-life or Pro-choice: The consequences of legislation.

Posted on 1st Jan 1970

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Rather than taking one side or another, let's talk about the reality of the matter. What are some of the implications of this law and how might their passing affect things like poverty, health issues, or crime? We'll take a look at some statistics, history and some trends for answers. This won't be an exhaustive list, but we will try to be as objective and fair as possible.

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Some history

Generally, it seems that when services (or substances) are outlawed their value increases. Such was the case throughout history, and even during the prohibition era with alcohol. Speakeasy’s – secret clubs with special privileges – came into prominence as people found a way to get tipsy, and moonshiners became big business.

Illegal abortion was actually common in the United States, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) examined national abortion data from the three years surrounding the rulings and “estimated that the number of illegal procedures in the country plummeted from around 130,000 to 17,000 between 1972 and 1974.” The number of deaths associated with illegal abortion also decreased.

It seems that while the majority might decide to be more adamant about contraception or other means of limiting pregnancy, there would be a sharp increase in illegal activity surrounding abortion, from ‘back alley’ operations and a likely increase of maltreatment and care, as well as other options like abortifacent drugs.

In some Latin American countries like El Salvador and Columbia, this is the case, where abortion is illegal but medications, like the drug misoprostol – a medication used commonly used to treat ulcers – is not. Misoprostol is often taken in the first trimester to cause termination of pregnancy with an approximate 90 percent rate of efficacy terminate pregnancy.

Medications like these are widely available and used, even in countries where abortions are illegal, but it is likely that illegal proceeders will increase and medical related incidence linked to botched pregnancy termination will increase.

Battle Lines

One side makes the point that the mother's body is her own and she should be able to choose what she does with her body. The other side, that the unborn has a voice that deserves just as much as the mother to be heard, and their life is just as precious. Some would say the option for abortion is a matter of healthcare and a right, while another would say it is murder or should only be reserved in cases of emergency (and some who would say even then it is not an option).

There are many with views on either side that differ from these two, for example, believing that while the fetus is a human being and abortion is killing them, women should still have the final say over their body, but this is looking more at the impact of the laws being passed.

Some will say abortion is murder, citing science in their reason and that the fetus is an independent and human being. Putting abortion on the same level as infanticide. Historically, when things are made illegal and outlawed superficially it might curb behaviors for some time, but the willing find a way.

So,Who is most at risk?

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According to the CDC, women in their 20s accounted for the majority of abortions in 2015 and had the highest rates. In 2015, unmarried women accounted for 86% of all abortions. Among married women, 4% of pregnancies currently end in abortion. Among unmarried women, 27% of pregnancies end in abortion.

Women receiving abortions tend to be between 20-29, unmarried and in/around cities. Where it gets really interesting is the racial breakdown. As one article put it, Among white women, 10% of pregnancies currently end in abortion. Among black women, 28% of pregnancies end in abortion (CDC). Black women were more than 3.5 times more likely to have an abortion in 2015 than white women, and some data showed that 36.0% of all abortions in the U.S. in 2014 were performed on Blackwomen.That might not seem like a large number until you consider that only 13.3% of the total population is Black. That means for every 1,000 live births, non-Hispanic Black women had about 390 abortions, while non-Hispanic white women had 120 abortions per 1,000 live births.

The laws being passed would primarily affect young 20 something, unmarried and black women the most.Effects on Society, To say if the laws would impact things like poverty would take time to know for sure, but we could look at some research in the past to make an educated guess.

According to some research abortion is ‘proposed to be a reducer of crime’.The study took a look at statistics in and showed a relationship between the passing of Roe vs. Wade in 1973 and the sharp decrease in crime from 1985 through the ‘90s.

Essentially stating that after the ‘73 decision those most affected by crime (“the poor”) would have access to abortions which were said to have a delayed effect on crime. The three most common reasons according to another study were a concern for or responsibility to other individuals; the inability to afford to raise a child; and the belief that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents. And half said they did not want to be a single parent or “were having problems with their husband or partner.” The most common reasons tend to revolve around childcare and financial security, factors that the study(above) point to as reasons for the sudden crime drop some 15-20 years after the decision.

The five states that legalized abortion in 1970 (New York, California, and Washington among them) saw drops in crime before the other 45 states and the District of Columbia, which did not allow abortions until the Supreme Court decision in 1973. It seems that there is evidence showing that crime reduction was directly impacted by the Supreme Court decision, even “...after controlling for a variety of factors that influence crime, such as the level of incarceration, the number of police, and measures of the state’s economic well-being (the unemployment rate, income per capita, and poverty rate).

A number of factors lead us to believe that the link between abortion and crime is causal...there is no relationship between abortion rates in the mid-1970s and crime changes between 1972 and 1985 (prior to the point when the abortion-affected cohorts have reached the age of significant criminal involvement). Second, virtually all of the abortion-related crime decrease can be attributed to reductions in crime among the cohorts born after abortion legalization. There is little change in crime among older cohorts.”It is reasonable to expect first a sharp increase in illegal termination procedures and abortifacient drug usage in the short term, and possibly an increase in crime rates in the 15-20 year range. It is important to note that this is not us saying one side is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, but a look at the likely outcome and consequences of the legislation based on historical trends.

What we can do

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Abortion is one of the most important topics of the day and should be prioritized.Some feel that abortion is synonymous with murder, Others say it is as important a right as the right to vote.

It seems that the issue of abortion is one that has to do with complex economic, moral, and philosophical reasons. The autonomy of the female body, the life of the unborn; the physical and emotional health of the mother, the standard of law.

Consistently, it seems that the laws will impact the poor the most, namely young black women. Will making abortion illegal lead to more intentional choices surrounding unintended pregnancy, or is this move setting many in an unacceptable position up for a worse one?

Michelle Oberman, a law professor at Santa Clara University and the author of “Her Body, Our Laws: On the Front Lines of the Abortion War, From El Salvador to Oklahoma, said it best, saying “People of good faith on both sides of the abortion war know that the best way to lower abortion rates is to deal with what causes women to want to abort in the first place. Rather than ending abortion, criminalizing abortion will merely create new ways in which the state can intensify the misery of the poorest among us.”

Knowing all of this — that banning abortion will not make it go away and that without doctors to charge, law enforcement will wind up targeting the poorest, most marginalized women — our battle over legalized abortion seems misguided. The rise of abortion drugs simply throws into sharper relief what we have always known: Abortions rates are driven not by legality but by economics. Half of the abortions in the United States take place among women below the federal poverty line.”

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Our Response

Kaimzz is committed to being involved in the conversations that real people are having, bringing awareness and information rather than choosing a side, and discussing topics that surround and shape relationships and the people in them. We want to spur conversation without conflict, and encourage collaborating and reflecting to find fitting solutions for complex issues. We can go further together than we ever can divided. Irrespective of just dating, Kaimzz aims to improve every kind of bond because for us understanding is most important; we believe relation matters.

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