By Chaya Himelfarb
While many would agree that every individual has an inherent right to privacy and should be allowed to independently make decisions regarding one’s own health and well being, these principles are not always upheld in today’s society
Despite the fact that the Supreme Court legitimized women’s right to choose which reproductive health care option is best for them, including abortion, nearly four decades ago in Roe v. Wade, Congress and legislative districts across the country have continued to play politics with women’s lives by repeatedly assaulting individuals’ access to reproductive health care.
In 2010 alone, 13 states passed laws barring women from receiving insurance coverage from the federal government’s health care reform act if they choose to undergo an abortion, even though federal restrictions are already in place to ensure that taxpayer money does not go towards abortion procedures.
Another recent affront to women’s right to choose is the “Protect Life Act,” which was introduced in the House recently by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA).
Pitts’ bill would allow doctors and practitioners who work in federally funded hospitals to refuse to administer emergency medical services to pregnant women, including abortion. This audacious measure would still be permitted even if a woman’s life were at risk. In short, the “Protect Life Act” contradicts its own title, as the measure jeopardizes the lives of women who receive basic health care services from a public community hospital.
If enacted, Pitts’ legislation will force women back into the dark days of undergoing risky and potentially lethal back-alley abortions if their health care provider denies them the right to terminate a pregnancy on their own moral grounds.
This proposed legislation serves as a reminder as to why the pro-choice movement is still politically relevant and needs to continue to be defended long after Roe v. Wade. Being pro-choice is not synonymous with being pro-abortion, nor does it mean believing that every unwanted pregnancy should be terminated.
On the contrary, being pro-choice means believing that every woman should be able to choose which reproductive option is best for her, regardless of whether she decides to go through with a pregnancy, eventually place her child up for adoption, or undergo an abortion.
It means believing in basic civil liberties, such as the right to privacy, due process, and autonomy over one’s body, principles that are at the core of conservative ideology that politicians such as Rep. Pitts claim to have. Being pro-choice means trusting women to make their own decisions about their bodies and their health care.
We trust women. Do you?