Opinion | Abortions are an essential part of reproductive health care

The right to a safe and legal abortion is a basic reproductive right that we need to protect.


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Medical bed on wheels in the hospital corridor.

Yassie Buchanan, Opinions Columnist

Abortions are crucial to reproductive health care, and pregnant people should have the privacy to look into alternative options without being targeted. Access to safe and legal abortions is a right people should have to make decision about their body.

A recent proposed amendment  to Iowa’s constitution states that Iowa does not support the right or provide public funding for abortions. Currently, Iowa only allows public funding for abortions in cases of rape, risks of losing one’s life, incest, or a fetal anomaly. It is required that patients receive an ultrasound that they view prior to an abortion.

Other parameters include, if you are a minor your parent must be notified about the abortion, and abortions must be performed no later than 20 weeks after fertilization.

The idea that abortions must be performed within a 20-week period comes from the misconception that fetuses can feel pain at this stage.

That’s not the only way Iowa lawmakers are trying to restrict women’s health care. Though it won’t be considered this year after not passing the legislative “funnel,” lawmakers introduced an alternative program that would aim to help families in crisis who are seeking abortions.

The program would have included various tactics trying to help pregnant people seek alternative methods to abortion. The bill was written to include virtual targeting methods that would reach out to pregnant people at the time they are looking into abortions.

Numerous studies have been done comparing various outcomes between women who were denied and women who gained access to safe and legal abortions.

One study found it is a myth that abortions are more detrimental to the mental health of women than when women were prevented from having one. Women granted an abortion had close to the same or lower levels of depression and anxiety than those denied one.

Another study found that denying women a safe and legal abortion can cause them to be stuck in violent and toxic relationships.

Additionally, access to safe and legal abortions doesn’t increase rates of abortions. It ensures there is access to safe abortions.

When pregnant people have the right and access to safe and legal abortion, we see more positive health outcomes both mentally and physically.

The U.S. legalized abortion in 1973 after criminalizing it failed to decrease abortion rates and instead caused an uptick in unsafe abortions. After this legalization, the rate of deaths and hospitalizations because of unsafe abortions nearly disappeared.

These new efforts have raised a lot of concerns for Iowans not only surrounding reproductive rights but also the implications this would have on the medical field.

Abortions are a part of reproductive health care. If the state further limits and distorts access to abortions, not only would this be taking away reproductive rights, it would be limiting crucial learning opportunities for medical students in Iowa.

Without the right to a safe and legal abortion, medical students and practitioners will be less likely to come and stay in Iowa. Future doctors need to know how to do this basic procedure. We’re already seeing a shortage of doctors able to do this basic procedure, limiting abortion rights only exacerbates this issue.

Research shows physicians willing and able to perform abortions are far and few between, particularly in the Midwest and South. According to the study, only 14 percent of 1800 OBGYN’s surveyed were willing and able to perform an abortion. With more restrictions, there will be even less access to safe and legal abortions causing people to seek dangerous alternatives.

The right and access to an abortion is essential in health care. Without access to safe and legal abortions, people will continue to get abortions however unsafe they might be. It’s crucial we protect this right in order to uphold reproductive rights and the health of pregnant people.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.