YOUR TURN: Women's healthcare choices are personal decisions

·4 min read

All people, regardless of where we live or what we look like, deserve to be able to make the best healthcare choices for ourselves and our families. The decision of when, and if, to become a parent is one of the most important many of us will make in life.

That critical decision deserves respect. Yet some politicians and the U.S. Supreme Court are interfering in what should be a private decision made by patients and their families, with their healthcare providers.

Most of our opinions about terminating a pregnancy are complicated. A recent poll, on pewresearch.org, revealed that, while the abortion debate may be dominated by extremes, most Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Because women do not speak openly or comfortably about their abortions and the resulting silence, more extreme advocates dominate our public conversation.

One out of four women in this country has terminated a pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and each makes that difficult decision based on health, economic, safety or viability issues. Whether we know it or not, all of our lives are affected by abortion access. Each of us knows a woman who has a secret kept for years, many fearful of being shamed or avoided. Abortion is more common than we realize. We need to remember that many people love someone who has had an abortion. We just don’t know it.

As political conflicts about abortion take the national stage, talking about abortion becomes more urgent than ever. For decades, certain groups and specific politicians have tried to impose their will on those who seek care in order to limit the size of their families.

There are continual efforts to eliminate access to healthcare providers, and restrict and outright ban reproductive care ... all while access to contraception, sex education and policies that help parents and children are attacked and denied. Women’s constitutional right to make decisions about their bodies is being taken and given to politicians.

If the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade was overturned or fundamentally weakened, 26 states have laws or constitutional amendments already in place, according to Guttmacher, and that would make them certain to attempt to ban abortion as quickly as possible. It also notes that targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers — bills prohibiting or deeply limiting access to care — have been enacted in 26 states that will immediately go into effect if the Supreme Court makes a decision this spring to undo Roe vs. Wade.

These bills denying that right will cause undue hardship and disproportionately damage the lives and health of women of limited means, with limited access to transport and money.

Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that protects a person’s ability to make personal decisions around family planning.

We must join together, make our voices heard, take political action and do whatever possible to preserve access to this healthcare right. Join the Upper Cape Women’s Coalition and other Capewide organizations on Saturday, 1 to 2 p.m., at the Falmouth Green.

Please wear a mask, socially distance, and wear green as a sign of solidarity with our Latin American sisters, “Marea Verde” (Green Wave), a feminist movement advocating for the decriminalization of abortion.

We will make clear how we can elect leaders who won’t control women’s decisions about their bodies — or, if, when and how to start a family — by focusing on important federal and state voting and women’s health legislation. We make the future, we vote and together we can ensure that all of us, no matter who we are or where we come from, can decide if, when, and how to grow our families.

Although abortion is currently legal in the U.S., we cannot predict what the Supreme Court’s decision will be this spring and access for women in 26 states is already at risk.

For those who are not comfortable joining us in person, we will hold a virtual forum that same evening via zoom. If you would like to join us at 7 p.m., please send an email to uppercapewomen@gmail.com and we will send you a link.

Penelope Duby lives in East Falmouth.

This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Upper Cape Women’s Coalition holds event on right to choose

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