Friday, February 10, 2017

Abortion facts and misconceptions/myths (& F**k You Matt Bevins of Kentucky!)

The governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevins, just passed a bill in my home state that says that it is a requirement to show women the ultrasound of the fetus before the abortion. For one, that is a waste of money using an ultrasound, but it is also unethical. Another terrible policy passed was to ban abortions after 20 weeks. Days into 2017, my home state has passed egregious bills to reverse progress in human rights. The same people that want to separate church and state for the purposes of avoiding taxing their churches are the same people that want to impose their religious ideologies into state politics. But the right wing politicians not only use their religion to justify violating human rights, they use highly offensive myths that perpetuate misconceptions about abortion and people that need abortions. Here, I will discuss the ways politicians and people use their misconceptions to argue against a person's right to make decisions about their own body. Below is a list of myths about abortions that everyone needs to know.

There is a misconception that abortion is a sad and disheartening moment for a woman. Of course that may be true for some, but generally abortion is for those who are in desperate need and are thankful to have the procedure done when it's over. There is an assumption that people will regret an abortion, and recently with the anti-abortion march this year there were people at the march that stated they regretted their decision, but most do not regret this decision. There is much ignorant rhetoric by the anti-choice groups, and one of those is the view that abortion is "baby killing." A baby and a fetus are different where the baby has been birthed and is living outside of the mother, while a fetus is more like a 'thing' that is developing because of the mother. Therefore the fetus is part of the person and they should be the only one to make the decisions about their body.
The rhetoric additionally tends to be gendered where it is thought that only women need access to an abortion. One could say that the partner also needs an abortion, but here I am specifically speaking about Trans men who need abortions. This is not hard to understand: Trans men can get pregnant even when taking T (testosterone), so clearly cis gender women are not the only people that need access to abortion.
Furthermore, I often ask myself if we would be having these cultural and political conversation if cis gender men gave birth, needed birth control or needed access to an abortion. But I am not going to spend time on this thought because Gloria Steinem and other feminists have asked this before.

A second misconception is that foster care is a better option. But that means that the person is forced to carry till birth and give the child away. There are so many children in foster care.  Children's Rights states that "In 2015, over 670,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care [62,000 waiting to be adopted]. On average, children remain in state care for nearly two years and six percent of children in foster care have languished there for five or more years. Despite the common perception that the majority of children in foster care are very young, the average age of kids in care is nearly 9." More Black men are incarcerated today than were enslaved in 1850 according to Michelle Alexander, which could be affecting more than half of children entering U.S. foster care who were young people of color according to Children's Rights.
There is limited research on those who choose to foster children and the living conditions of those children who are fostered. I knew two parents that were both bus drivers and they had taken in a couple foster children while living in terrible conditions and caring for their other children. At one time I would have that they needed an extra check to care for their other children. This is not to say that fostering is bad, and actually I admire those who foster for the right reasons (not for money, and not for their ego.) Research on foster care conditions will have to be further explored, and there is much to be said on this subject, but I have exhausted this point enough.

The third misconception is that late term abortion are common. They are not. And actually those who get late term abortions are those who intended to carry the child to birth and ended up having complications from the pregnancy. Thus they needed an abortion because the baby would die anyway, or the person would suffer health risks. Most abortions are done in the first couple of weeks when a person realizes their pregnant. Actually as soon as they find out they're pregnant is usually when they schedule for the appointment. Some doctors and researchers suggest that the fetus "feels pain" after 24 weeks and consciousness is developed in the third trimester, but this argument is useless because then you would have to also consider the 'life' of sperm, which has been observed smelling its way to eggs!

Next, one myth about abortions is that they are on the rise when this is not true either. The abortion rate has been on the decline for years, and hit its lowest level in 2011, according to the latest data available from the Guttmacher Institute. There are many reasons for this, one being the greater acceptance and use of a variety of birth control methods, but another could be the fact that access to abortion is not easy. Another fact that the Guttmacher Institute states is that 61% of people who had abortions in 2008 were parents, and 34% had two or more children. This statistic was higher between then and 2011. This is interesting because this is counter to the common narrative of an abortion client as the clueless, young, unmarried girl. If this myth was the case though, there is even more of a reason to make abortion services more accessible. There are many barriers to this procedure and one of those barriers is the location when many people would have to drive 3 or more hours away to have the procedure done. One other barrier is the restrictive standards of abortion clinics. So with all of this considered, seeking an abortion would be an even greater obstacle for someone that felt alone, had no money or transportation.

Another myth is that tax funds is used for abortions, but this is not the case. Tax funds may go to organizations that offer this service, but there is audits that make sure that tax funds do not go towards abortion services. The dialogue around defunding Planned Parenthood is that there is a belief that most citizens are anti-abortion, when in fact the majority of people across the US believe that abortion should remain legal and accessible for everyone. I find it extremely inconsistent that groups that call themselves 'pro-life' when banning or making it harder to get abortion services will actually kill more people because of the dangerous alternatives to an abortion. What's more, some believe that simply banning abortion (much like banning or criminalizing anything) will stop it from happening. Abortion is illegal in many places around the globe, and this is connected to the fact that people in those places are dying due to unsafe conditions and procedures. What would happen instead here in America is that people would be seeking out dangerous alternatives.

The take away message here is that people should not be forced to give birth when they don't want to, can't afford it, are not ready-- and all reasons for an abortion are valid. People should have the right to make decisions about their body, including the right to safe, accessible, affordable health care (which should include abortion services). These laws and bills greatly affect the vast majority of people. I have used Plan B several times, and that's luckily due to the fact that I had access to this product at the nearest Wal-Mart, so in those moments I think to myself: I am 'at risk' of needing an abortion in my lifetime (especially because I am choosing to never have children.) I had my partner go in and buy Plan B all those times so I wouldn't to be seen buying it at midnight or early in the morning, or running into anyone I knew--even though it shouldn't be stigmatized for being a normal human animal. 

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