“What If Guns Were As Hard To Get As Abortions?”
A recent Bustle article poises this poignant question in the wake of Sunday night’s horrific massacre in Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Yes, abortions are very difficult to get—more difficult than semi-automatic assault rifles—and the GOP is pushing hard to further restrict reproductive choice.
Women are currently being boxed in on all sides and stripped of their constitutional right to abortion clearly defined by the Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark decision in Roe v. Wade.
Over the past few decades, Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws have been instituted across the country limiting clinic access and the range of reproductive services that these clinics are able to provide, forcing women to travel across state borders for abortions, often hundreds of miles away. There are 788 abortion clinics in the U.S., an average of 15.76 abortion clinics per state, but 19 states have less than five clinics. Many states have a series of expensive and time-consuming hoops women have to jump through that make abortions a practical impossibility. In contrast, Business Insider found that there were 51,438 gun retailers in the U.S. in 2015, an average of 1,029 per state, and in many states, all that is required to buy a gun is to walk into a gun shop and pay for one. Staggeringly, there are approximately 65 gun shops to every one abortion clinic in America.
Furthermore, low-income women are deprived of abortion access due to the Hyde Amendment, a 40-year old legislation provision that blocks any federal funds, including Medicaid, from paying for abortions. Religious groups also run “pregnancy crisis centers,” which advertise to pregnant women as unbiased clinics and then push anti-abortion agendas through propaganda and intimidation techniques. Women of color, undocumented women, immigrant women, LGBTQ+ women, and homeless women are particularly targeted when reproductive health care options are restricted.
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, further limiting women’s reproductive health care choices. This abominable 20-week ban disgracefully and blatantly violates women’s rights while pushing a religious-based, science-scorning agenda. With President Trump voicing his support of this legislation and with 45 Republican Senators currently cosponsoring the bill, there is a frighteningly real possibility of this dystopian policy becoming the law of the land.
The Trump administration also rolled back birth control coverage for millions of women whose insurance is covered under the Affordable Care Act on Friday. This despicable move reveals true Republican motives to rob women of rights and choice because when preventative contraceptive care is limited, the need for abortions rise. Republicans who truly wish to see abortions fall for moral reasons should promote birth control; however, the actions of the GOP making contraception harder to come by clearly demonstrates that their priority is to control and subjugate women, not to promote religious beliefs. This is amplified and compounded by the fact that criminalizing abortion doesn’t stop abortions, it just makes it more dangerous. Instead of further restricting reproductive rights, Congress should direct its attention and resources to crucial problems like preventing tragedies like the attack in Las Vegas.
Reproductive justice, and subsequently abortion access, is about choice, ensuring that women—regardless of background, identity, or socioeconomic status—have the legal and actualized agency and autonomy to make informed decisions about their bodies and their futures and have safe, affordable, and quality access to the full range of reproductive health care choices.
In an era where the Republicans in power are attempting to turn the clock back on progress, now more than ever, Democrats need to step up and stick to our values to prioritize the fight for continued and expanded abortion access. Call your senator today (202-224-3121) and demand that they vote against robbing women of their human rights, because reproductive rights and women’s rights are human rights.
Photo Credit: Vibe