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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Assaults on women's rights just don't stop

Nobody wants to have an abortion in the 20th week of a pregnancy. And nobody wants anyone else to have one, either. Still, it is legal in most states, and sometimes it is necessary. The choice to end a pregnancy should rest with a woman and her doctor; the process should be beyond the interests or constraints of the law.

Nevertheless, anti-choice legislators keep poking their noses into exam rooms around the country. This month Texas passed one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in America. The new legislation bans the procedure after 20 weeks. In addition, the law places new, stringent requirements on existing abortion clinics. They burden the clinics with regulations that will, in effect, shut them down. The costs of meeting the new regulations are prohibitive and impractical. Access to abortion in Texas will virtually disappear, except, of course, for the wealthy, who can easily travel to a big city for a private procedure.

Women will do what they have always done: find a way. Whether it’s by crossing the border for abortion pills in Mexico or by seeking abortions in other states, women will end pregnancies they cannot or will not carry.

It’s a fact of life and it’s the law of the land, but still the battle goes on. Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in this country 40 years ago, when the Supreme Court ruled that a woman’s right to privacy extends to her right to have an abortion. But the fight continues, because the ruling allows states to make regulations that affect how accessible abortion is in any given region.

Since both sides claim the moral high ground, why not agree that abortion is a private issue, not a legal one?

I have had the experience — more than once — of sitting around a table of women when the subject of abortion comes up. If six or eight of us are gathered, at least one or two have had an abortion.

No one remembers the event with anything but sadness and regret — not that they had the abortion, but that they had to have the abortion. The women I know are comfortable with the choice they made. Every one wants her daughters and her granddaughters to have the same choice and the same right to privacy.

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