May 21, 2024

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These teens say abortion is health care | Opinion

By Aleyna Kilic and Zoe Van Gelder

Reproductive rights, predominantly abortions, have been extensively debated in the courts for decades. Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, the U.S. courts have protected safe and legal abortions throughout the United States as a constitutional right.

Those opposing the ruling have stacked federal courts with anti-abortion judges and justices, passed unconstitutional legislation, and ordered arbitrary restrictions with the ultimate goal of repealing Roe v. Wade and making safe and legal abortion impossible to obtain.

Abortion is healthcare

Students at McNair Academic High School staged a rally at the City Hall in Jersey City on Oct. 3 in support of reproductive rights.

In some places, abortion restrictions have succeeded in making abortion harder to access. These restrictions disproportionately affect those who are low income, for whom the cost of transportation and time off work alone make abortion access unattainable.

Misogyny and racism reinforce the oppressive agenda of reproductive restraint. It is time to work for a future where abortion is legal, accessible, affordable, and destigmatized.

Legislators should be making abortion more accessible, anti-choice legislators are working hard to do the opposite. Now, anyone with a womb — women, nonbinary people, or trans men— are at risk of losing their reproductive freedom.

Abortion is healthcare

Damini Varghese is a junior at McNair Academic High School. Varghese says she made this sign with an elephant inside a uterus because Republican legislators passed the restrictive abortion law in Texas.

Having a child can alter the entire course of one’s life, and that life-changing decision should be in the hands of the person making it.

As high school students in one of the top schools in the state, let alone the nation, the pressure of school is more than enough. If we were faced with an unplanned pregnancy, being forced to then carry a child to term would put us in a crisis. As cis females who experience and see sexual assault with frequency, the possibility of someone taking away the choice of what to do with our bodies is frightening.

Our male-dominated government should not have its hands on an issue that will never directly affect them. Since the birth of our country, we have taken great strides towards achieving equality in the face of oppression. Still, women have a long way to go, particularly with autonomy over their health.

Proclaiming a “pro-life” ideology has nothing to do with the preservation of life. The only “pro-life” step to take is to fight for abortions to remain safe and legal.

Because abortion is a medical issue, criminalization will not prevent women from getting the procedure. At-home abortions, which are extremely dangerous and sometimes lethal, become common when abortion is made illegal.

To put these damages into perspective, the World Health Organization concluded that the taxpayer cost of having to cover those hurt in unsafe or self-performed abortions would be about an additional $928 million total — in the U.S. alone.

As Americans, we have the right to make choices. Roe v. Wade determined that under the Constitution, a woman has the right to make her own medical decisions, including the right to have an abortion and the right to privacy when making this decision. Although the reasons a woman may want an abortion might include cases of rape or incest, the ruling still emphasizes that none of those reasons matter.

The Declaration of Independence ensured all of us the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. However, the Heartbeat Bill is a shocking and unsettling view of a violation of all three.

The 480-plus abortion restrictions from 2011 to 2021, including the recent Heartbeat Bill, are direct attacks on the judicial decision to affirm a woman’s Constitutional right to choose.

The call to action is clear and urgent. The ruthless attacks on reproductive rights, from Texas to Mississippi, are picking up quickly. Anti-choice extremists are fighting to return to a time when there were no options for women, and they had no autonomy over their bodies.

Everyone is at grave risk of losing their reproductive freedoms – this is not just Texas’ fight; this is everyone’s fight. Abortion is healthcare.

Aleyna Kilic is a junior at McNair High School in Jersey City. When she is not interning at City Hall, she is working on a new coalition with the Flo Initiative to end period poverty and stigma in Jersey City Public Schools.

Zoe Van Gelder is a sophomore at McNair High School in Jersey City. When she’s not participating in local advocacy or volunteering, she’s probably playing volleyball or cramming in homework.

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