Law meant to limit access to abortion in the Ohio state legislature

Story by Amelia Steinbach, T '21 State legislators in Ohio are currently debating House Bill 565, a piece of proposed legislation that imposes strict limitations on access to abortion. The law changes the definition of person to include “any unborn human,” which results in the criminalization of abortion. If the law is signed into law, it would effectively criminalize abortion. Any woman who undergoes the procedure, as well as any doctor who performs it, would face charges for murder. Because the death penalty is permitted in the state of Ohio, women and doctors could also be sentenced to death because of their role in the procedure. Despite the fact that many modern abortion regulations include exemptions of pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, as well as those that pose a threat to the pregnant woman’s life, House Bill 565 includes no such provisions. Notably, the group of legislators sponsoring and co-sponsoring the bill is overwhelmingly male, with only two out of sixteen...
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Analyzing High Abortion Rates in Pakistan

Analyzing High Abortion Rates in Pakistan

     The country of Pakistan has one of the highest rates of abortions in the world; it is noted there are 50 abortions for every one thousand women. However, this procedure is “legal only in very limited circumstances” according to the Guttmacher Institute. Pakistan states an abortion can occur if there is a “need” for it such as if a woman’s health is in danger. But, otherwise, the term “need” is very vaguely defined—culturally, abortions are not accepted or promoted in Pakistan. As a deeply conservative and Muslim country, most hospitals and doctors refuse to perform abortions for religious and moral reasons and beliefs. As a result, a huge underground abortion industry thrives. This contributes to the statistic that ⅓ of all women who undergo abortions in Pakistan suffer complications largely because those who are performing the operations are likely not properly qualified. The high amount of abortions comes from the fact that there is a large unmet need...
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California Governor Vetoes Abortion Bill

California Governor Vetoes Abortion Bill

Governor Jerry Brown recently vetoed a bill that would have required all health centers at University of California and California State University schools to offer prescription abortion pills. Introduced in February 2017, Senate Bill 320 would have made California the first state to require access to medication abortion at public universities. Medication abortion was approved by the FDA in 2000, and currently accounts for one-third of abortions in the United States. A combination of two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, allows the patient to undergo the procedure in their own home. In spite of years of research deeming the procedure safe, thirty-four states heavily regulate medication abortion by requiring licensed physicians, rather than midwives or nurse practitioners, to administer the drugs. In spite of living in a state with otherwise progressive abortion legislation, women at public universities in California often have restricted access to abortion options. More than 500 women at California's public universities seek the abortion pill at off-site healthcare providers every...
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The Alarming Incidence of Unsafe Abortion Worldwide

The Alarming Incidence of Unsafe Abortion Worldwide

Approximately 56 million abortions are performed globally each year, with half of these procedures falling upon some continuum of danger that they pose. 97% of these unsafe abortions are performed in low-income countries within Africa, Asia, and Latin America, illustrating the enormous reproductive health disparity borne by geographic location. Abortions are classified by the World Health Organization as “safe”, “less safe”, and “least safe.” Many abortions conducted in developing countries are qualified as “least safe,” characterized by the insertion of foreign objects such as sticks and broken glass bottles, or the ingestion of harmful cleaning products. Ultimately, 6.9 million women each year are treated for complications attributed to unsafe abortions, and 23,000 women die from such complications. Yet, safe abortion procedures such as manual evacuation and abortion-inducing drugs are not financially out of reach even for low-resource countries. Thus, the solution to this horrific lapse in reproductive health lies in political discourse. While some countries, such as Ethiopia and Nepal,...
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Oregon Ballot Measure 106 would ban public reproductive healthcare coverage

Oregon Ballot Measure 106 would ban public reproductive healthcare coverage

A state with a long history of supporting abortion rights, Oregon will have a constitutional amendment to limit state funding for abortions on the ballot this November. After narrowly gaining enough signatures to head to the ballot in late July, Measure 106 has inspired intense activism on both sides of the issue. Oregon is one of seventeen states that uses its own funds to provide abortions; the federal government prohibits the use of Medicaid funding. If Measure 106 passes, the state would only be able to fund abortion in cases necessary for the safety of the mother — as in ectopic pregnancies — or in situations of incest or rape. Although the Oregon Health Plan paid $2 million for abortions for 3,600 women in the last year, the official cost analysis of Measure 106 states that passage of the initiative could cost the state an additional $10 million each year. An estimated 271,833 women of reproductive age are covered by the Oregon...
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South Korean activists call to abolish abortion ban

South Korean activists call to abolish abortion ban

Earlier this month, activists rallied and marched in Seoul to demand an end to the laws that criminalized abortion in South Korea. Though the official crowd estimate was 1,500, organizers believe that over 5,000 people participated in the demonstration. Speakers included physicians, clergy, and young women who shared testimonies about their experiences struggling to end unwanted pregnancies or access reproductive information. South Korea's current law, originally passed in 1953, makes receiving abortion punishable by up to one year in prison or a fine of up to 2 million won (about $1,770). Physicians who perform the procedure could face even harsher punishments, serving up to two years in prison or losing their right to practice medicine. Since 1973, another law has allowed for abortion up to 24 weeks of gestation in certain exceptional circumstances, including rape, incest, genetic impairment of the fetus, and endangerment of the health of the women. In addition, women must obtain their husband's consent in order to undergo the...
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Receiving an abortion not associated with mental health harms, study confirms

Receiving an abortion not associated with mental health harms, study confirms

The notion that abortion causes poor mental health outcomes is often used to defend laws and policies that limit access to the procedure. So-called crisis pregnancy centers--fake health clinics that seek to dissuade women from receiving an abortion, often through manipulation and misinformation--sometimes tell patients that abortion causes depression, anxiety, and regret. They even warn of "post-abortion syndrome," a mythical condition that has been dismissed by scientific authorities. While reviews of scientific literature have found no evidence to suggest that abortion harms mental health, the existing research had limited generalizability. But thanks to the groundbreaking longitudinal Turnaway Study by Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), scientists can conclusively assert that having a wanted abortion is not associated with mental health harms. The study compares the effects of women who have and women who are denied an abortion and follows them for five years. In addition to finding that having a wanted abortion is not associated with poor mental health outcomes, the...
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Texas fetal tissue burial law trial begins in U.S. federal court

Texas fetal tissue burial law trial begins in U.S. federal court

The federal court hearing of a Texas abortion law began this week. The state claims that the law, which requires the burial or cremation of fetal remains following an abortion or miscarriage, ensures that dignified disposal of fetal remains. Abortion providers and reproductive rights activists, however, argue that the legislation is unnecessary and places an undue burden on patients and clinics alike. Courts have blocked similar laws on fetal tissue disposal in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Indiana. The trial is expected to conclude on Friday....
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Kenyan court case challenges government stance on abortion

Kenyan court case challenges government stance on abortion

After a three-day hearing, Kenya's high court adjourned a case on safe abortion until September 18, with a verdict expected by the end of the year. The case will decide if the government is responsible for the death of a teenager from complications of a botched backstreet abortion, and could increase access to safe abortion for women throughout the nation. The Kenyan ministry of health withdrew guidelines on safe abortion in 2010, and has since banned health workers from receiving training on abortion. FIDA Kenya and the Center for Reproductive Rights are challenging the ministry's decision, saying that it is a violation of women's rights. The government's removal of guidelines and training on safe abortion, they argue, has led to an increase in illegal and often unqualified practitioners taking advantage of desperate women, who face serious risk of complication or even death. The girl at the center of the case, known by her initials JMM, died last month after a botched backstreet...
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Self-Induced Abortion in Times of Crisis, Part 3

Self-Induced Abortion in Times of Crisis, Part 3

Passersby could hardly miss the bright pink stucco building near downtown Jackson, Mississippi in the southern United States. But the unusual color is not all that makes the building unique. The Pink House, as it’s called, is home to the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only remaining abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi. With some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the nation, Mississippi is one of 29 states classified as “extremely hostile” to abortion by leading SRHR research organization the Guttmacher Institute. Women currently cannot obtain an abortion after 15 weeks of gestation, the most restrictive ban in the nation. State governor Phil Bryant has repeatedly pledged to make Mississippi “the safest place in American for the unborn child,” joining other lawmakers in a crusade against reproductive freedom.   Yet this ostensible commitment to safety is less a compassion toward Mississippi’s children than a powerful political tool. Despite their professed desire to protect women and children, Governor Bryant and Mississippi state legislators...
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