The day after Election Day is often very polarizing. I remember how some people were rejoicing in 2016 when Donald Trump won the presidential election. Other people, myself included, felt like going on a bender at the news of his ascension to the White House. In my opinion, the 2016 election changed everything… and in many ways, things got worse. Emboldened MAGA Republicans decided to screw around with rights we Americans have taken for granted for decades. Roe v. Wade was overturned, and suddenly, women of childbearing age became second class citizens in most states where people typically vote Republican.
Well… I was absolutely delighted this morning to read about the results of Ohio’s election. I took it as a sign that there are still people in the United States who have common sense and decency. I’m writing, of course, of the decision Ohio voters made to establish the right to abortion in their State Constitution. According to The New York Times:
Ohio voters resoundingly approved a ballot measure enshrining a right to abortion in the State Constitution, according to The Associated Press, continuing a winning streak for abortion-rights groups that have appealed directly to the public as they try to recover from the United States Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.
Issue 1, as the ballot measure is known, had become the country’s most-watched race in the off-year elections, as both parties try to gauge whether voter anger over the loss of the federal right to abortion could help Democrats in next year’s presidential and congressional races.
I am also greatly relieved to see that many of the people commenting on this issue are as delighted about it as I am. It’s a sign that most Americans do not want to see our country backslide fifty or more years by intruding in private medical decisions made by women about their own reproduction. I also realize that some people are very disappointed, because they truly believe that abortion is morally wrong. It may surprise some of my readers that I can empathize with that viewpoint. Personally, I find abortion horrifying. But I’ve also never been in a position in which I seriously had to consider having an abortion. I’ve never been pregnant.
I have never been pregnant, but I have always been practical. And I wholeheartedly believe that we must protect the rights of the already born over the unborn. The attempt to completely ban abortion has already had disastrous second and third order effects that I don’t think most people considered when they tried to impose draconian limits on the procedure.
I don’t think people who oppose allowing women to choose realize that banning abortion will lead to poorer healthcare for everyone. Why? Because doctors don’t want to work in states where they can be arrested for doing their jobs. OB-GYNs in red states like Texas, Idaho, and Florida are already leaving those states for places where they don’t have to fear prosecution for acting in the best interests of their patients. So already, women who live in states with strict abortion bans are going to have fewer doctors around to help them, not just when they’re pregnant, but also when they have other conditions that affect their health.
But while I haven’t done a lot of research on the emerging issues of physicians leaving red states over abortion, I’ll bet other doctors will leave, too. Because if state legislators can butt into women’s health, what’s to stop them from branching out into other specialties? And what about the medical schools in those states? The best and the brightest medical students won’t want to study in a state that ties their hands and threatens them with arrest over moral issues, largely influenced by politics and religion. Those who do go to medical school in red states might not want to become OB-GYNs in those states. Or, at least those doctors in training won’t want to train in those places, unless they are themselves anti-choice. I would think that mindset would inherently make them worse physicians, because their focus would be on the unborn, rather than the already born patient asking them for care.
Pregnancy can be dangerous or even deadly for some people. Physicians should have the right to be able to help their patients without worrying about being arrested and eventually incarcerated. Patients must have the right to privacy, without some politician’s ideology in the exam room with them. The United States, as a whole, already has way too many people in prison as it is. Incarcerating more people isn’t a good way to protect children. Banning semi-automatic and automatic weapons… now THAT is a good way to protect children!
I’m sure the decision to enshrine the right to abortion in Ohio’s State Constitution had at least something to do with that poor ten year old girl who was impregnated by her stepfather and had to go to Indiana for care. I’m sure many voters realized that a ten year old child isn’t equipped to maintain a healthy pregnancy. While her case isn’t necessarily the norm, the ugly truth is, children can and do get pregnant after they are victimized. They must be protected!
Other people likely voted for the measure because they realized that sometimes women need abortions for tragic reasons that are, quite simply, no one else’s business. Sometimes women have abortions because they will DIE if they don’t. And they should not have to explain that to anyone else, nor should they ever have to worry that they’ll be arrested for taking care of their own health. Imagine how absolutely horrifying it would be to learn that your much wanted baby has anomalies that are incompatible with life, then being FORCED to maintain the pregnancy.
I read some comments from some people who were concerned that protecting the right to abortion would lead to an erosion of parental rights. Some people don’t want minors to have the right to gender affirming care without parental consent. Others don’t want to allow minor girls to have abortion without parental consent. To that, I say that gender affirming care for minors generally doesn’t involve making permanent changes to their bodies. Frankly, I think it’s much better to provide that healthcare and support to minors who are transgender or non-binary, than ignore the issue and put them at risk of suicide. Either way, this is an issue that should be dealt with privately among the people involved, not politicians.
As for girls getting pregnant and having abortions without their parents’ consent, I would say that if your daughter is having unprotected sex without your knowledge, that’s a much bigger issue than the risk that she might get an abortion without your permission. I think we need to face facts and realize that teenagers are going to have sex. It should be up to parents to teach their children about sex, and how to avoid unintended pregnancies. But many parents typically do a terrible job at this task. They simply tell their teenaged children to abstain, or leave it up to the schools, which are governed by their communities.
Many educators in school systems will direct teenagers to abstain from having sex. Some of them will do that. I did. But plenty of others will have sex before they’re ready for it, and they will get pregnant. I would much rather see teenagers be able to access contraceptives and even abortion care than be at risk for doing something desperate, crazy, or stupid.
When I was a teenager, there was a well known case of a 17 year old girl named Becky Bell who got pregnant in Indiana. She asked about having an abortion, but was told that in her state, she needed either parental consent or a waiver from a judge. Not wanting to tell her parents about her condition, Becky considered her options. They included going 100 miles away to Kentucky for an abortion, carrying the baby to term and placing it for adoption, or running away to California. She feared asking a judge for permission to have an abortion because she didn’t want her parents to find out about the pregnancy.
Sadly, Becky decided to either self-abort or access an illegal abortion. The end result was that she got very sick with an infection, got pneumonia, went septic, and ultimately died on September 16, 1988. Her parents, Bill and Karen Bell, later lobbied against the parental consent law. They would have preferred that their beloved daughter have access to abortion without their knowledge or consent than what ultimately happened. They lost Becky forever because she couldn’t have healthcare privacy. This was a young lady who was on the brink of adulthood, anyway. If she’d been able to have an abortion without interference from uninvolved parties, she would still be alive today. But you never hear the pro life crowd talking about that. They just want to talk about the sanctity of life, and abstinence education. Why didn’t they care more about Becky Bell’s life?
Becky Bell’s story was later dramatized for HBO. That was how I heard about it. In 1992, she was the subject of Lifestories: Families in Crisis, “Public Law 106: The Becky Bell Story”. I remember the show vividly. I don’t see it posted on YouTube, but it looks like it can be accessed on HBO Max. Becky Bell’s story really hit home for me, because she was one of my peers. She wasn’t even a year older than me. I could have been in her shoes myself.
I think Republicans made a huge mistake when they decided to go after abortion rights. They’re going to find that this is an issue that will cause them to lose elections. I know I’m done voting for Republicans, and I also know I’m not the only one. In my case, it’s not just because of abortion, but abortion is one reason why I won’t vote for them anymore. I don’t have to worry about needing an abortion anymore, but there are people I care about who do. And also, I’m pissed off about the dreadful people in that party who seem to have lost all sense of decorum and decency.
I truly fear Donald Trump winning another election, although common sense tells me he won’t win. But then, I didn’t think he stood a chance in 2016, either. If he wins, he will do everything in his power to dismantle the Constitution, because he wants to be a dictator. And the people who support him are too stupid to realize that if he gets into power, they will lose their power, too. This isn’t about Republicans as a whole, either… it’s about Trump, who is the top Republican at the moment. Going after abortion– which I really think is more about keeping people in their places than caring about babies– was just the first step toward taking away freedoms for everyone. The United States is supposed to be a free country… but banning abortion is the height of government overreach that will have devastating effects on basic freedoms like healthcare privacy.
I think Ohio’s decision to enshrine the right to abortion will ultimately be a good thing for all Ohioans– including the unborn. Because they are going to find that people will move to their state… especially people who can provide good healthcare. They will find that doctors will want to practice in a place where they can do their jobs without fear of arrest. Bright young people will want to go to medical school in Ohio, because they can get all of the training they need to do their jobs. The military will want to do business in Ohio, because female service members will be able to access the healthcare they need and maintain military readiness. And fewer babies will be born to people who aren’t ready or don’t want to be parents. That will lead to less poverty, less child abuse, and fewer people needing welfare assistance from the state.
So, I say BRAVO to Ohio voters. I hope like hell that other states will follow suit and protect the right to reproductive healthcare privacy, although I fear that many Republican legislators red states will do everything in their power to keep the issue off their ballots. Imagine that… the Supreme Court says it’s a state issue, but the legislators in red states don’t want to risk making that decision. I’m shaking my head at that… and grateful I don’t have any descendants.