My body, my choice

Despite the fact that abortion is protected under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, recent controversy over Roe v. Wade has sparked drastic changes to abortion law throughout the United States. And there may be more changes to come in Florida in 2022.

“In 2017, 71,050 abortions were provided in Florida… abortions in Florida represent 8.2% of all abortions in the United States,” said Guttmacher Institute, a research-based think tank.

Florida public opinion on abortion in 2014 shows that “39 percent of Floridians believed abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, compared with 50 percent of Texans that same year,” said the Washington Post. But, no polling has been conducted since then to provide evidence of a change in opinion.

As of January 1, 2022, new restrictions on abortion were put into place in Florida. These began with the dramatic proposal of a “heartbeat bill,” similar to a law passed in Texas requiring doctors to perform an ultrasound to detect a heartbeat. But with much less fanfare, bills promoting other policies, including state-directed counseling, limiting insurance coverage, requiring parental consent before minors can obtain an abortion, and a deadline of 15 weeks, have been proposed and may well pass.

For each woman, the decision to abort or not remains a highly-personal choice. We recognize this is a controversial issue. Regardless of your stance, we hope you consider pros and cons of the following topics:

State-directed counseling:

According to the Guttmacher Institute, state-directed counseling is required for the main purpose of discouraging patients from getting an abortion and making them rethink their decision.

Unlike many other states, Florida currently does not require patients to take multiple trips to the abortion clinic or wait for a specified waiting period between counseling and the procedure.

This measure disregards that a woman knows what is best for her and her body and also the idea that a person seeking an abortion has already made her decision. The AMA Journal of Ethics stated, “it is unethical to steer a person toward a choice that reflects a clinician’s or organization’s beliefs when those beliefs are not presented during the time when the patient is making an important decision.”

However, Good Therapy, a website of best practices for therapists recommends pre- and post-abortion counseling, stating it can be beneficical if “an unbiased therapist or counselor will generally be able to provide accurate information about abortion, as well as clinic or provider information, and a woman can explore her feelings and any reservations she may have about abortion, consider and discuss all of her options, and know that she is not alone.”

Limited insurance coverage:

Under the Affordable Care Act health plans in Florida, insurance only covers abortion when related to rape, incest, or life endagerment. However, by purchasing an optional rider at a cost, abortion could be covered by the individual’s insurance. When abortions are the result of rape, incest, or life endagerment, currently the state offers public funding.

While this seems generous of Florida, with limited insurance coverage, some women will not have the ability to pay for the procedure. Thinking abortion is only needed in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment is both ignorant and foolish. Abortion is needed when a woman decides it is needed, if she knows she cannot provide for the child, take care of a child, or whatever the case be, abortion should be covered by insurance.

Parental consent:

Another new provision may require minors who seek an abortion must notify their parents or guardians to get consent.

However, Niger Innis, national spokesperson for the Congress of Racial Equality, shared that many parents feel a lack of parental consent denies parents agency and authority, Innis said, “One mother said, and I quote, ‘The government is taking away my rights as a parent to be involved in the medical decisions of my minor child.’” Parents believe they should have the final say about medical decisions concerning their children,

But some parents don’t have their child’s best interests at heart. “According to the NARAL Pro-Choice America Web site, the reality is that more than one million teens become pregnant unintentionally in the United States each year, and only 61 percent of them notify at least one parent. Most who do not are victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse or incest. It is precisely their parents to whom they cannot turn for support,” said Ramona Edelin, scholar and vice chair of the Black Leadership Forum.

Deadline of 15 weeks:

The 15 week abortion ban was recently introduced and “unlike abortion bans in several other states…the Florida bill materialized without fanfare, introduced a few hours before the filing deadline, with no news conference to mark its introduction,” said the Washington Post.

Additionally, the Post wrote “DeSantis did not talk about the 15-week ban in his opening address to the legislature on Jan. 11, mentioning the legislation only when asked about it by reporters.”

Florida women would have a strict deadline to make a decision. Florida lawmakers have said that since most abortions occur well within the 15 week period, or first trimester, and therefore, the ban would have little effect on the abortions already performed in Florida and is a very generous proposal.

After Week 15, abortions are only legally performed if the pregancy is a matter of health or life endangerment. Exceptions do not include rape or incest.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned completely, many analysts predict Florida to be a state that would likely ban abortion all together. If so, North Carolina would also be the nearest state without an abortion ban, a 575-mile driving distance, possibly too far or too dangerous for some women..

My body, my choice. Words that seem so logical, yet are debated so widely across the country. To some they seem logical when talking about wearing a mask, but so outlandish when talking about abortion.

Abortion has become a political point to win votes rather than a topic focused on protecting women. Yes, there are alternatives to abortion, such as adoption or fostering, and many women choose those options, whether through public or private agencies. But women should be able to make decisions for themselves based on their personal needs and personal values, not have their decisions limited by laws that treat women like children.