Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

After Abortion

There is a continuing and often vicious debate in our country over the legality of abortion. Though it has been nearly 40 years since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision legalizing abortion in Roe v. Wade, the issue is far from settled. Despite the fact that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime, there is a harsh stigma against it. Aside from the legal restrictions many states have placed on abortions (of which there are far more than most people realize), women who receive abortions or even consider abortion are often met with harsh criticism and vitriol from “pro-lifers,” and the doctors who provide abortions often face physical violence from extremists.

Many arguments against abortion are framed as concern for women – claims have been made that after having an abortion, women will become depressed, or turn to drugs. But despite these assertions being wide-spread, they are largely unfounded, or based on flawed and biased studies. And until the research group Advancing New Standards in Public Health conducted its Turnaway Study, no one had done any research about the troubles women face after being denied an abortion.
So what happens to women after they get an abortion, and what happens to the women who are denied access to abortion?

According to an article on io9, as far as the theory that abortion causes clinical depression, “the Turnaway Study found no indication that there were lasting, harmful negative emotions associated with getting an abortion.” The women who were turned away, however, are far more stressed a year later than women who were able to obtain the procedure. Though some women did say they felt sad or guilty after an abortion, those feelings eventually dissipated, and it’s hard not to wonder how impacted those women were by the negative stigma of abortion – are these feelings the result of the shame women face from the pro-life community?

Another argument against abortion is that it can be physically harmful to women – an argument which is unfounded. In fact, the risk of complications in childbirth far outweighs the minimal risks from a safe, legal abortion provided by a qualified medical professional. Essentially, women’s lives are more at risk if they choose to give birth than if they choose to abort, which makes the “pro-life” moniker pretty ironic, since the movement basically seeks to force all women to give birth, whether they want to or not.

And what happens to the women who are turned away from abortion because of restrictions placed on the procedure? io9 writes that a year after attempting to get an abortion: “76% of the turnaways were on the dole, as opposed to 44% of those who got abortions. 67% percent of the turnaways were below the poverty line (vs. 56% of the women who got abortions), and only 48% had a full time job (vs. 58% of the women who got abortions).” Considering the fact that one of the most common reasons women cite for seeking abortion is a financial inability to care for the child, these are really important statistics. Additionally, women who are forced to have their children often face higher instances of domestic violence, because once a child is in the picture, it is more difficult for women to extract themselves from abusive relationships.

The bottom line? Women who are denied abortions often face pretty major life consequences when they are forced to have children. And why would you want to force a child into a situation that’s anything less than safe, loving, and wanted? Plus, it's important to realize that even if abortion becomes illegal, it doesn't mean it won't happen, it just means that abortions will be against the law, and done in unsafe circumstances. Legal abortion isn't what makes abortion occur - it's what keeps it safe for women.

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